Lacombe resident Debbi Gallant accepted her award for community safety at a virtual ceremony on Nov. 19. She was one of the recipients of the 2020 Alberta Community Justice award that celebrates Albertans who work to prevent crime and promote restorative justice.
Gallant is the President of the Lacombe Community Watch Association (LCWA) and Vice President of the Lacombe Victim Services (LVS) Board. Both of these organizations work to bridge the gap between the local police service and the community.
Gallant was one of four people and three associations who were recognized for their criminal justice work. Gallant’s award was in the leadership category.
“I am honoured to acknowledge the good work of these outstanding individuals who have improved the lives of others and, in turn, made our province an even better place to live and work,” said Kaycee Madu Alberta’s Minister of Justice and Solicitor General.
Gallant said she was surprised to have been nominated and even more surprised when she found out she was a finalist.
“I was surprised but honoured,” said Gallant.
“For me, this is reflective of many people in the City of Lacombe who share the same goals and the same vision.”
The LCWA normally operates several programs that aim at keeping the city safe. This includes the citizens on patrol, neighbourhood watch and block parent programs.
Right now, because of COVID-19, only the neighbourhood watch program is in operation. According to Gallant this might change depending on the level of public health restrictions in place.
Gallant first created the LCWA in 2014 after noticing the rise in complaints about local crime on social media.
“It started when a group of us had gotten together to discuss how we could partner with our police service to help create safer communities,” she said.
Gallant, who repeatedly mentioned that this was an award shared by the community and didn’t belong only to her, still actively works to improve the relationship between the Lacombe Police Service and community members.
She facilitates many community meetings and provides guidance to members on both sides to promote cooperation.
“I think when communities work together on common goals or a common vision they become stronger and in this case, safer,” said Gallant.
She hopes this award will continue to show the Lacombe community that programs like the community watch association are important and are working.
The Lacombe Community Watch Association along with Lacombe Victim Services is looking for volunteers. Anyone who is interested in volunteering can do so by getting in touch with the organizations on their websites.