WRPS plans for a safe semester

Project Safe Semester was launched once again on September 3

Photo by Emma Richards
Photo by Emma Richards

Project Safe Semester, an annually conducted initiative, was launched once again on September 3 through to September 26. The project was organized to bring together permanent residents and students alike to develop and advocate for safe and strong neighbourhoods, using a multi-faceted approach.

This unique project is organized at the beginning of each school year to help promote safety and encourage positive and respectful interaction within the community. In order to do so, Waterloo Regional Police Services have committed to working with various community partners in order to reach this outcome.

The partners include Wilfrid Laurier University with Special Constable Services, University of Waterloo with Campus Police, Conestoga College, fire departments, as well as bylaw officers.

The main goal of the project was to “establish and maintain a high, visible police presence in the community,” explained Mike Haffner, executive officer of WRPS. In addition, WRP worked to proactively discourage unlawful behaviour and public disorder issues in a timely and efficient manner.

“We do that in a number of ways, obviously through enforcement initiatives, discouraging those people who are engaging in unlawful or disruptive behaviour, but we also reach out to educate those in the area to encourage respectful behaviour,” said Haffner.

There is often an increase in disturbances, fights, assaults, impaired driving and such at this specific time of year. One of the main methods used to implement the initiative was communication.

“We reach out to educate and communicate with, primarily, students and Waterloo residents in the area to encourage respectful, responsible behaviour.”

The Door Knocker program has also been introduced. It is a strategy in which WRPS officers and community partners were given the opportunity to educate students. Haffner said many first time students are unaware of what is expected of them in regards to festivities, which includes the consumption of alcohol.

The Door Knocker tactic allows for open conversation. Officers are able to properly inform students — for example, officers may clarify information concerning the liquor license act to those interested in throwing a keg party.

For Homecoming weekend, the project’s team worked to create an increased police visibility in the hopes of deterring individuals from making a decision to participate in unlawful behaviour.

If individuals engage in impropriety, the officers in close proximity would be able to respond quickly.

Haffner explains that throughout the past few years, WRPS has already seen a positive impact as a result of Project Safe Semester. Despite the same number of participants, this year’s enforcement levels were lower. This would infer that student’s are now more informed and educated on the importance of safe and responsible behaviour.

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