If you happen to be passing by the Tim Hortons at Midtown Blvd SW next week on Tuesday, November 22 and you see police officers congregated inside, there's no need for alarm. No, they're not investigating a robbery; in fact, they are there to meet with Airdrie's residents as part of the Mocha with a Mountie program.
Mocha with a Mountie, which like many community gatherings was halted during COVID-19 is now back and meant to create an opportunity for the city's residents to ask police officers about what is happening in their communities. Cpl. James McConnell with Airdrie RCMP's Community Policing said that there is a definite need for face-to-face interaction which was simply not possible during COVID-19.
Cpl. McConnell added that through public engagement sessions with residents and from feedback the RCMP has noticed there are several topics of concern for citizens, including traffic enforcement issues, and questions surrounding young adults.
"I think the city's done a great job of finding things for kids; between Genesis Place, the skate park, the splash park, the volleyball courts. [We have] a lot of our community programs including Community Links, [The] Boys and Girls Club," he said. "But we are a city that's growing exponentially."
Hence, Mocha with a Mountie will not just be with a Mountie. Amanda Tailleur-Marshall a Youth Facilitator with Closer to Home Community Services will be present. Tailleur-Marshall is a registered social worker and has spent the past 5 years working with vulnerable children and families.
"We’re excited to have Tailleur-Marshall; Airdrie is a family community and having someone outside of policing who can answer questions relating to the family dynamic is incredibly valuable," Cpl. McConnell said.
As far as traffic issues go, Mocha with a Mountie will be an opportunity for the public to let the police know some of their concerns, including the issue of irritatingly loud mufflers or stunting or any other concerns they may have.
"Constable Clifford Leavitt will [also] be there. He's also a member of our traffic advisory committee. So, it's an opportunity to engage with somebody directly that has input in not only enforcement but proactive measures."
Constable Leavitt has been in traffic services for five years and a police officer for 13 years. He is also a Drug Recognition Expert, a Breath Technician, a Standard Field Sobriety Technician, and a member of the Critical Collision Investigation Team.
Cpl. McConnell will also be present, though he did admit this will be his first Mocha with a Mountie meeting.
"As the individual that's in charge of our community policing section, my job is to address issues with the community and raise it with management to make sure that our officers are aware of how the public feels and what we can do better in our day-to-day jobs."
Cpl. McConnell has been a police officer for 17 years and spent the majority of his time as a police officer working in person crimes.
Though he does anticipate that there may also be questions raised about the possibility of provincial policing, Cpl. McConnell said those questions may be better raised with local MLAs.
While coffee will be ready and waiting for Airdrie's residents during Mocha with a Mountie, when asked about the question of sweets, namely donuts, Cpl. McConnell joked that buying donuts for police may elicit too many too-easy-to-write jokes.
Mocha with a Mountie will take place every three months. Next week's meeting which starts on Tuesday, November 22 will begin at 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Tim Hortons located at #401 1 Midtown Blvd SW.
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