Officer provides outstanding service for at-risk youth

Red Deer RCMP Cpl. Karyn Kay honoured

A Red Deer RCMP officer has been recognized for her outstanding service working with at-risk youth.

Cpl. Karyn Kay was honoured at the Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police Outstanding Achievement Awards in Banff on April 26.

As the corporal in charge of the Red Deer RCMP Community Policing and Victim Services units, Kay has focused the Community Policing unit’s focus on at-risk youth in the community to reduce their involvement in the criminal justice system. She has overseen a number of important initiatives like the creation and implementation of the Youth Intervention Team.

“The Youth Intervention Team has provided support to youth and their families on over 700 files since its inception in September of 2016. The work Cpl. Kay and her team do reduces repeat calls to police for service, and is vital in directing youth and their families to resources that can help break the cycles that lead to criminality,” Red Deer RCMP Supt. Ken Foster said in a press release.

The Youth Intervention Team broke new ground as the first RCMP detachment in Alberta to reach out to youth through Facebook and Instagram.

“It’s important to meet youth where they’re at, and we’re having better success connecting with youth through social media than we ever did in the more formal ways,” Kay said.

“We’re often trying to connect with youth who chronically go missing, or fail to appear in court, for example. When we reach out on social media, we find they’re listening to what we have to say and responding to us. Those relationships with youth are crucial to the work we’re doing.”

The Youth Intervention Team works with Crown prosecutors to successfully obtain court-ordered mental health assessments, recommend release conditions, enroll youth in the Alternative Measures Program and restorative justice healing circles, secure them admission to treatment facilities and re-locate youth to more appropriate homes.

In 2016, Kay facilitated the development of closer relationships between Red Deer RCMP and key players in the High Risk Youth Intervention Committee that works collaboratively to identify medium-risk youth and create intervention strategies tailor-made for their needs.

Committee members include local school boards, John Howard Society, Alberta Justice, Youth Justice Committee, Child and Family Services Agency, Alberta Mental Health, addictions specialists, PCHAD Centre and the 49th Street Youth Shelter.

“The excellent work led by Cpl. Kay and the Youth Intervention Team in supporting and diverting at-risk youth from the legal system has been recognized and commended by Alberta Justice officials, defence counsel, the Ministry of Children’s Services, and local Provincial Court judges,” Foster said.

“We’re proud to congratulate her on this well-deserved recognition of the great work she’s done.”

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