Community's needs are officer's priority

by Hilary Thomson
Staff writer

When Const. Shannon Kitchen was playing soccer on the field across the street from UBC's RCMP office, little did she suspect that six years later she would be the community liaison officer for the detachment.

"When I finished my training I remembered that it looked like a neat place to work so I opted to come here," says Kitchen, who has been with the detachment for three years.

"This is a job where we can relate to the community," she says. "It gives me an opportunity to talk directly to people and find out what services they need."

Kitchen worked with the Women Students' Office, the Equity Office and residence life managers on sexual assault prevention programs when she first joined the detachment.

"Shannon has demonstrated that she's an effective communicator and that's a big part of this new position," says RCMP Staff Sgt. Lloyde Plante. "She has also developed a good feel for the community's needs."

Kitchen has recently worked with UBC Personal Security Co-ordinator Paul Wong to offer a robbery prevention program to UBC Food Services administration and co-ordinated an alcohol/drug awareness display for Totem Park residence.

She also oversees the assignment of the detachment's officers to serve specific UBC residences. The officers work with managers, advisers and students to address the residence's particular policing concerns.

"It's important for us to make personal connections in this community," says Kitchen. "Then we can draw on those resources to help with problem-solving."

In addition to UBC and Pacific Spirit Regional Park, the 12-officer detachment also serves the University Endowment Lands (UEL), and Kitchen spends two days a week at University Hill schools.

She educates students about personal safety, bullying and theft.

After hearing high school students complain there is nothing to do in the area, Kitchen is trying to re-establish the school's sports teams with the assistance of members of the detachment and UBC coaching staff.

She also plans to launch a community Block Watch program for UEL that would include Hampton Place residents.

"The response to this position has been great," says Kitchen. "I've even got residents and students volunteering to help out with community policing activities such as victims' assistance programs."