Full-time community safety officers will patrol Wascana Park

A new cohort of community workers will patrol Wascana Park, seven days a week

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Full-time Community Safety Officers (CSOs) roam the roads, sidewalks and bike paths of Wascana Park.

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The five-person team is responsible for enforcing Provincial Capital Commission (PCC) regulations and other regulations.

Daryl Chernoff, CSO program director at the Wascana Center, said the team consists of “four full-time officers plus myself.”

He said their duties are “high-level, low-risk” work. So that means road safety, alcohol regulations, cannabis control law enforcement, and CCP regulations are all within the purview of CSOs.

Part of the job will also be to offer help and information to park visitors.

Regarding the powers that CSOs have, Chernoff said the Regina Police Service (RPS) ultimately still has authority in the park.

“We would be in addition to them,” Chernoff said.

CSOs are all sworn in as Special Constables under the Police Act. This appointment means that they can apply the rules and write tickets. According to the law, “a person who is appointed a special constable is, in the performance of the duties of a special constable, a peace officer”.

This raises questions for Prescott Demas, a local activist who attended several protest camps in Wascana Park.

“The purpose of their statutes is to prevent people from entering,” Demas said, referring to recent changes to the CCP’s statute in response to a protest camp established in 2020.

Chernoff said the RPS would still make arrests and enforce the Criminal Code.

“We are in communication with Regina Police through dispatch,” Chernoff said. “If there is criminal activity that is beyond our authorities, we can engage with the Regina Police Department and they can come out and engage with that.”

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Chernoff did not specify when exactly the officers would patrol the park, only that they would be present seven days a week and work in shifts.

Chernoff said there has always been a “security enforcement presence in the park” and that is nothing new.

Established in 1964 according to the RPS website, the Central Wascana Police (WCP) were responsible for law enforcement in the park. Functions and numbers have evolved over the years. He first had a bicycle patroller in May 1991.

CSOs will patrol the Wascana Center on foot, by bicycle and by vehicle. In a statement on Wednesday, the CPC – the body that controls the Wascana Center and its statutes – said the agents would be deployed before the summer months.

Com. Bob Hawkins (Ward 2) is the city’s voting representative on the CPC. The advisor said he was happy to hear that CSOs would be patrolling the park.

“I think they are well trained, I think they will serve the public and increase public confidence in the safety of the park,” he said.

When asked if the decision to appeal to CSOs was in response to protest camps, Hawkins and Chernoff denied otherwise.

“No, they are by no means an answer to that. They respond to a general concern that people feel safe in the park in all seasons and at all times of the year, ”said Hawkins. “They are not a response to a specific instance.”

alsalloum@postmedia.com

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Susan W. Lloyd

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