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Community will 'appreciate' new family liaison officers: police

'By participating in this recent training opportunity, we will be able to better support our community when they need us most,' says Barrie police sergeant

In late March, 12 Barrie police officers from across the service attended a specialized training course to allow them to better support victims of crime in our community by becoming family liaison officers.

This course, which is the first of its kind ever held in Canada, was taught by instructors from the United Kingdom College of Policing and included sessions that were designed to build trust with the family and included the identification of professional boundaries, while being conscious of equality, diversity and inclusivity.

Barrie Police Service Det. Const. Deborah Howe of the major crime unit, who also serves as the family liaison officer co-ordinator for the service, took this course last year and saw the value of it being shared locally. She arranged for the instructors to attend and says “the level of instruction is second to none and having additional officers trained from our service is invaluable. Our community will appreciate these officers and the professional approach, dedication and commitment they can offer in what is a very difficult time for a victim’s family.”

In Ontario, police follow an investigative protocol when it comes to any complex investigations such as a homicide or a traffic fatality where there has been a loss of life. Part of the protocol identifies the need to have someone identified that can be the main point of contact with the victim’s family. This liaison includes providing support as well as keeping the family appraised of any developments in the ongoing investigation.

Sgt. Jason Frye of the Barrie police recruitment unit attended the course and states “by participating in this recent training opportunity, we will be able to better support our community when they need us most.”

Police officers from York Regional Police, Toronto police and South Simcoe police also received this one-week course and will no doubt use their enhanced training to assist their services with major investigations when they arise. Just days after the course concluded, Barrie police called upon two of the service’s newly trained family liaison officers to provide support to a family affected by a fatality in our community.

At a recent police services board meeting, Barrie Police Chief Johnston stated: “As we move forward, our designated family liaison officers will be able to share the responsibility that often fell upon one person within our service. Having a team of highly trained professionals allows us to deal with tragedy in a manner that is focused upon the family of the involved victim.”