Community Liaison Constable (CLC) Freddie Challenger wants neighbourhood residents to know he’s available to talk and to listen.
Assigned to the F3 district, which includes Alberta Avenue, Westwood, Elmwood, Eastwood, Delton, Parkdale, and Spruce Avenue, Challenger is responsible for working with the community to find lasting solutions to crime and disorder.
“The liaison constable is the middleman between the Edmonton Police Service and the community,” Challenger said. As such, he acts as a point of contact for residents, neighbourhood businesses, and social agencies.
“Say somebody calls in concerned—they see somebody who is living in a house and it looks like the house is falling apart. I’ll go there with Alberta Occupational Health and Safety and, if they’re on [Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped], go there with AISH to make sure that they’re getting their payments,” he explained.
Formerly a patrol officer in the district, Challenger started as CLC last June, but he is no stranger to the role. Before moving to Edmonton, he served as a community constable in Australia.
“Mostly just being an ear, because lots of people have concerns,” he said. “And it might not be police related to the point where people need to go investigate it. So just being there and listening to what they have to say.”
Challenger said he is impressed with the level of engagement he’s seen from the communities, but there is room for improvement. One of his goals is to foster a greater sense of community consciousness, starting with neighbourhood awareness.
“Making people aware of their surroundings, aware of what’s happening with their neighbour, because I find that a lot of people don’t communicate with their neighbour as much,” he said.
“The more people know each other, then there are more eyes out there that are willing to call in if they see something that’s out of the ordinary. If everybody is just keeping to themselves, then it makes our job a lot harder.”
That said, people should still report complaints and emergencies using designated channels for an appropriate response.
“When you go through the complaint line and 911, that’s our way of collecting data for our stats so we know that there’s an issue in that neighbourhood.”
However, Challenger is accessible. On the first Tuesday of every month, The Carrot Café hosts Coffee with a Cop, where community members can speak with Challenger from 10:30 am to noon.
Through these sessions, he said he hopes to clear up some misconceptions people have of the police.
“I’m approachable,” he said. “And I’ll listen to what you have to say.”
Feature Image: CLC Freddie Challenger invites community members to join him at The Carrot on the first Tuesday of every month. | Hamdi Issawi