You see them patrolling our streets and you may even have called on them in a time of need. Our Public Safety Officers are well known in the community as their job consists of interacting with residents every day to keep our City safe and orderly… and they also do so much more. Read on to discover the initiatives lead by our Public Safety Officers (PSOs) that go beyond the call of duty.
This community-based initiative, in partnership with local community services, provides quick access to critical information regarding a person’s health and who to call in an emergency, a detailed physical description, and any particular sensitivities that the person may experience. A vulnerable person is any person who, due to a medical, cognitive, mental health or physical condition, may exhibit patterns of behaviour that may pose a danger to that person, such as a person with autism or dementia. This has been a great tool when our PSOs meet people who are found wandering, and is even used by people beyond our City’s borders to register family members who may wander into Westmount.
This personalized service for seniors, persons with disabilities and individuals with reduced autonomy residing alone in Westmount offers them a reassuring voice in case of emergencies or accidents. In partnership with Contactivity, our PSOs check in with registered persons with regular phone calls. Residents can also opt in to allow our PSOs to check in on them in their home. A key box is provided and can be used in situations of concern or when a person has not been heard from in a while. This service offers great peace of mind to those who cannot be near their loved ones in Westmount.
When the opioid crisis began to truly be felt in our City several years ago, our PSOs were concerned with being able to help people in time-sensitive situations. Previously, only police and emergency health services could carry lifesaving naloxone kits, which can help reverse a drug overdose. Having never given up on the issue, our Public Safety Department was able to procure 3 naloxone kits in 2023 that can be used by our PSOs and other trained individuals at the police station on Stanton Street, at the Westmount Recreation Centre and at the Library. Librarian Daniel Miguez has also been a champion of this initiative, highlighting its effectiveness for people with dementia and others who may accidentally take a double dose of prescribed medications.
As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Developing ties within the community is the kind of prevention that goes a long way in Westmount. Year round, PSOs drop in on knitting groups, fall prevention programmes, and other activities offered for seniors by Contactivity, as well as children’s crafts and storytime at the Library. In the summer, student park patrollers are an extra set of eyes and ears, approaching people while out and about to learn what’s going on before it becomes an issue. Special events such as Winter Carnival and Family Day are opportunities to connect with broader groups of residents in a positive environment, as well as just getting people out together. Community outreach isn’t just for creating bonds between residents and Officers, but also between all members of the community.
Holiday Food Baskets
A tradition for over 30 years, the holiday food basket drive led by our Public Safety Department helps dozens of families every holiday season and brings cheer to the less fortunate on our streets. All year our PSOs raise funds, such as with the dunk tank activity at Family Day. Things ramp up in November with Artisans Westmount, where the admission fee is a donation to the cause, and the Fill the Cruiser initiative on Giving Tuesday where PSOs parked in front of grocery stores encourage local shoppers to donate money or nonperishable food items. Each year, the CIUSSS provides a list of local families in need. “It’s evolved over the years,” says Kim Colquhoun, the Assistant-director of Public Safety. “When we see a name on that list now, many of us know the families and can provide things we know they need.” Remaining funds go to the purchase of gift cards that are distributed to the homeless in our area.
“We’re not just here to give parking tickets and to enforce the by-laws,” Kim reminds us. “We’re here to help, too.” This mentality is the catalyst driving our PSOs’ work in service to the public, and particularly to those in Westmount with gaps in their support network. Think of families who could use a little help affording a special meal around the holidays. Think of isolated seniors, or people with disabilities for whom simple tasks are not always so simple. Anyone could use a friendly person to rely on from time to time, whether it’s to check on their home while they’re away, or to help them navigate when they may have been the victim of a scam. Nobody is more present for the people in Westmount than our Public Safety Officers.