Helping hands could be on the way to help keep Portage la Prairie safe.

Portage la Prairie City Council has announced that it will be submitting a request to partake in the Community Safety Officer (CSO) Program. This program was showcased in Portage in May 2023, with Kelvin Goertzen, Mayor Sharilyn Knox, President of the Association of Manitoba Municipalities Kam Blight, and former Portage MLA Ian Wishart.

City manager Nathan Peto says the application needs to be approved by the province before CSOs make their way into the community.

“CSO's under the province are called second-tier policing,” explains Peto. “In cities like Winnipeg and Brandon, they have a cadet-type program, and this is very similar to that. The goal is to provide that additional safety presence. We want them here to support our current RCMP officers and to get better coverage throughout the community.”

Councillor Colin Doyle says that the CSOs will have a home base, but the emphasis will be on them getting out and establishing connections with the community. 

“I’m very excited to get the ball rolling on this,” notes Doyle. “I know our administration has done a great job with the application. It’s not an easy process. There was a lot that went into it and I just like the fact that it's following our strategic direction that we've developed over the last year with the current council.”

If the CSO application is approved, the hiring and training process will begin in the spring of 2024, and they’ll begin official duties the following summer.

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