Column: On the police beat

Before I get into the meat of this first column, I thought I would take the opportunity to introduce myself to the readers of

 My name is Nathan Hoedeman (pronounced “who de man”) and I have been a police officer with the Ottawa Police since 1995. I have worked as a patrol officer in both the West end of the city (former Nepean) and Centretown. I worked several years as a school resource officer and spent three years working as a youth investigator, before taking on the position as a community officer in charge of the Somerset Community Centre located at 393 Somerset Street West.

My primary role as a CPC officer is to offer crime prevention programs to the Centretown community. The five official Ottawa Police crime prevention programs are: Neighbourhood Watch, Business Watch, Home Security Inspections, Operation Identification and Child Print services.

I have always found working with the community very rewarding, especially when you are able to empower people to draw upon their own resources to address the issues that affect their safety and well being in their community.

The programs offered by the CPC are certainly part of the solution, but the success of these programs ultimately lies in community engagement. The goal of this column is to create a dialogue around crime and safety issues that affect the Centretown community and prevent people from feeling safe, or at least feeling positive about the community they live and/or work in. I will attempt to give some perspective to the above-mentioned issues, in hopes that this will create awareness and on-going candid dialogue on how we can work together to find longer-term solutions.

Now that’s empowering!

The topics that I will cover will be related to the Centretown community concerns that have come to my attention as a CPC officer.

My intention is not to meaninglessly stir the pot on what some might feel are “hot button” or controversial issues, but rather to generate a dialogue about topics that sometimes elicit strong reactions from people depending on what side of the issue they are polarized to, or sensitive towards.

Taking a walk in someone else’s shoes is easier said than done, but often therein lies the key to enhanced understanding and awareness of the issue in question. Perceptions based on fear, whether real or perceived, rational or irrational, only limit our ability to eventually move towards finding a solution.

I recently attended a Safety forum called “Taking It To The Streets,” which exposed the main concerns of Centretown residents and it became clear to me that there are many different sides to any one issue and also that people in Centretown are passionate about their right to feel safe in their community.

What most of the discussion boiled down to, was that people wanted the victimization to stop.

I agree, but how do we get Centretown residents to feel empowered enough to want to make a difference in addressing issues that traditionally are viewed with a “not in my backyard” attitude?

Well, a first step may be in creating an awareness of the issues of crime and safety so that the solution(s) considered deal with the root cause as well as the surface symptoms. Long-term solutions are certainly worth the investment, as they are the ones that ultimately work. This is why I am writing this column.