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Police chief answers questions about Lethbridge crime in town hall meeting

On the eve of his first anniversary with the force, Lethbridge Police Service Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh spent about two hours answering the questions of residents and business owners on Monday night.

In one of the key themes of the evening, Mehdizadeh stressed the importance of trying to prevent “opportunity crime” by engaging in small measures to make things inconvenient for criminals.

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“What we do in our own homes and with our belongings and how we protect them is critical in actually promoting a safer community,” he said.

“When we make it easy for crime to happen, not only does it happen, it also promotes it with other criminals and a group to come here and actually commit these crimes because it’s just easy pickings.”

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Mehdizadeh says that doesn’t mean any blame is on the public, but he hopes to see the partnership between LPS and the community continue to grow.

Earlier this year, LPS was tasked with submitting an action plan to the province, outlining how it plans to rebuild public confidence in the force. The chief says he believes transparency and open dialogue with the community are some of the keys to accomplishing that trust.

“It’s just about what we’re going to do to move forward, to build a trust,” Mehdizadeh said.

“I know Lethbridge — despite what people may talk about. This community does respect the police service, and we have a lot of support from the community, and I just want to even increase that.”

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Many frustrations voiced by those in attendance surrounded the optics of drug use and homelessness downtown.

Mehdizadeh stressed that the issues facing Lethbridge aren’t unique to the city, and said he hopes residents don’t give up on what the core has to offer.

The chief said he feels optimistic about the work being done by the city’s new Community Wellbeing and Safety Task Force. While the program is in its infancy, Mehdizadeh says he’s excited to see multiple stakeholders working together to tackle the social issues that often encourage crime.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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