The Youth In Policing Initiative (YIPI) is a summer employment program with the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) for youth 14-17 years of age who are attending a secondary school program. The goal of the initiative is to give youth, who may experience barriers to success, an opportunity to develop job skills while enhancing police and community relations. It also provides them with a glance at the inner workings of the Service from the viewpoint of a member of the community, and an opportunity to view the Service as a prospective employer.
The program began in 2006 with a mere nine students and has been growing ever since. As a result of community based referrals and recruiting initiatives at schools and youth agencies, the OPS received a total of 300 applicants. From these applications, 39 students were selected and subsequently worked in sections across the organization such as the Marine/Dive/Trails Unit, Finance, Mail Services, Fleet, Human Resources, the Professional Development Centre, Fraud, Youth, the Chief’s Office, and many more.
The YIPI students worked in the various sections throughout July and August, supporting community initiatives and learning valuable life and employment skills. As well, students were given the opportunity to participate in the Co-operative Education program, which allowed them to receive two credits towards their secondary school program upon successful completion of the program.
The leadership skills acquired through the program, and the training the youth received, has aided them in serving as great ambassadors for the Service. Their contribution to the Service and the community as a whole, as well as the value of the program itself, has been recognized both within and outside of the OPS. This was exemplified by a generous $10,000 donation from Waste Management Ottawa towards leadership development in the program.
Below are a few examples of how the YIPI students made a difference in their community this year.
YIPIs get involved in crime prevention
On July 26, 2011, Ottawa Police launched the “All Valuables Removed” initiative aimed at reducing thefts from vehicles by reducing opportunities for criminals.
To help promote the initiative, a Youth Section Constable, along with several YIPI students, handed out “All Valuables Removed” warning cards from July 12-14, 2011, in parking lots and garages in the downtown area.
A total of 4500 warning cards were handed out and not only got noticed by the community, but also by newscasts. A warning card happened to be placed on a van belonging to CTV and the participating YIPI students ended up getting an interview with the media outlet, explaining what the cards were and how they helped.
A week later, there was a large amount of break and enters and robberies being reported in the Rockcliffe area. On July 19, 2011, YIPI students walked around the area putting theft notices in mailboxes in an attempt to raise awareness about the crimes that were happening. By the end of the day, a total of 400 notices had been handed out. Not only did the YIPI students help raise awareness, but shortly after handing out the notices, a suspect was arrested.
YIPIs help search for missing youth Justin Rutter
Justin Rutter disappeared from his family home on October 8, 2009, and has not been heard from since. The Youth Section continues to investigate this file but leads are drying up. In the hopes of stimulating new information, the Youth Section Sergeant directed several of the YIPI students to canvass areas of Vanier where Justin was known to frequent.
From August 2-3, 2011, YIPI students attended over 200 businesses in the Vanier area and handed out Justin Rutter’s missing person poster.
At the end of the second day, the group attended the Factory Direct located at 1235 Donald St and ran into Justin Rutter’s mother and brother. Mrs. Rutter told the group that she, “really appreciated their efforts as it shows that people still care and remember Justin”. The group was touched by Mrs. Rutter’s comments as they could see the tears forming in her eyes and it nearly brought them to tears as well.
This one interaction brought home the message that even the simplest task can have a huge impact.
The response this year towards the contribution of the YIPI students as been overwhelmingly positive and the OPS looks forward to continuing this initiative in the years to come.
Applications for next year’s YIPI summer positions will be available in early 2012 at ottawapolice.ca!