I recently had the pleasure and privilege of joining a member of the Calgary Police Services (CPS) District 1 Ramsay office to participate in a ride-along day with CPS as part of my being a member of the Calgary Police Chief’s Sexuality & Gender Diversity Advisory Board (CPCSGAB).
My ride-along was facilitated by the CPCSGAB police liaison officer Cst. Dyana McElroy as an opportunity for CPCSGAB members to see inside the day of CPS members, have conversations related to the board and how we can provide educational opportunities, foster trusting relationships between CPS and the LGBTQ* community while bringing forward issues of concern to CPS staff and leadership.
I had the option of choosing a day or night shift for my ride-along. I chose District 1, as I live in this area and thought the daytime would be a more active time to spend with CPS. Both of my choices proved to be the right for my particular outing with Cst. Jason Giso.
Jason gave me a tour of the main building operations to start my day. It included the main entrance area, a room where everyone meets before their shift for updates, reports area, equipment room, holding cell/booking area, offices, lunchroom and special and stolen vehicles investigations areas. It really is quite a lot compacted into a small but definitely newer building. I also met a number of other CPS members, in particular, Acting Inspector Clare Smart, S/Sgt Shawn Wallace, A/Sgt. Westlake, Sgt. Andruschuk, Sgt. Travis Flathers, Commissioner Garreth Warren and Cst. Jamie Lamb working this day among others.
After a quick meeting in the equipment room to see where radios, weapons, Tasers and other supplies are charged and stored, I received my official “observer vest” to wear throughout the day.
Jason and I headed to the parking lot to the vehicle we would be using for the day, a Ford F150. I got an overview of the equipment in the vehicle, an outline of what we would be doing throughout the day and when and where I may be involved. Safety was the most important piece of all conversations and learning during the day.
During the day we were called to a number of different issues from simple removal of unwanted persons on premises that went smoothly, a call to an urgent dispute on a C-train platform that provided a very speedy controlled drive from 8th Avenue and 8th Street SW to Chinook station. A landlord and tenant concern proved to be a great example of community policing and resource sharing with members of the community that had placed the call to CPS. The day wrapped up with a fender bender call and a failure to stop at stop sign pull over before I returned home for the day.
Only one of the actions in the day resulted in Constables Giso and Lamb having to submit a report back at the main office before continuing on with the day. The reporting process proved to be a rather long one that involved creating the report document, review and approval of the report followed by submission of the report; in total about 1 hour spent on this process.
Some fun, scary and exciting things happened throughout the day, however, most important for me was the chance to have conversations about the work I do in HIV, what it is like to be HIV positive, my interactions over the years with CPS as a member of LGBTQ* community, the work of the CPCSGAB and honest open dialogue CPS members related to language, identity, gender and how best to engage and build relationships of trust with CPS. A number of sincere discussions happened, not only with Jason but with others throughout the day. I was even asked if I knew about the Level Two Diversity training that was provided to members of CPS by CPCSGAB members Jane Oxenbury, me and Cst. Dyana McElroy which was a great thing to hear coming from a younger CPS member in the presence of his peers.
At the end of the day, I managed to walk away with a better understanding of CPS inner workings, processes and how/why they may respond to a situation the way they do. I finished the day feeling there are really good people working in CPS doing their best in often challenging and potentially volatile situations. I appreciated their honesty and candid conversations throughout the day as it provided a “real world” day glimpse into the lives of CPS members working to keep us and our communities safe.
In closing, I want to send my sincerest thanks and gratitude to CPS District 1 Ramsay leadership and staff for providing a look into how their day runs and the many challenges involved. Special thank you to Cst. Jason Giso; your professional and respectful actions displayed through the day are what I feel is needed to build trust between CPS and all communities in Calgary. Cst. Jaimie Lamb for being part of a number of calls connected to my day with CPS and other members present during the day.
Finally, big thank you to Cst. Dyana McElroy for facilitating this opportunity to learn more about a day on the street with CPS and for chairing the CPCSGAB. I learned a great deal today and met some amazing men and women working for CPS and the Calgary communities.
For more information on the Calgary Police Chief’s Sexuality & Gender Diversity Advisory Board, HIV Community Link and its HEAT Program please visit www.hivcl.org or contact the HEAT Program Coordinator at 403-508-2500 extension 129.
HEAT Program Coordinator
Pronouns: He, Him, His