embracing its knowledge and its role in
the mental health space.”
Iacobucci studied the Toronto Police
Service’s use of lethal force after 18-year-
old Sammy Yatim was shot and killed in
a streetcar by then Const. James Forcillo.
The former officer is now serving a six-
year prison term for attempted murder.
“You can get some very tragic outcomes
if you can’t start developing a culture of
policing that respects and understands
the enormous challenges around mental
health,” Chaffin says.
Nicole Sherren, a neuroscientist and
the creator of AFWI’s online course, is
working with Calgary Police Service
Insp. Joel Matthews on putting the
brain story into all recruits’ training.
“Understanding where that aggression
and violence is coming from might also
give you a few more tools in your toolkit
in terms of how to understand and maybe
even diffuse that situation,” she says.
Sherren says the Alberta Family
Wellness Initiative has seen considerable
uptake from the Calgary Police Service.
“They have a long history of thinking
about preventive community policing.”
The Safe Communities Opportunity
and Resource Centre is one example.
The Calgary Police Service created the
centre to connect people experiencing
homelessness with more than two dozen
support agencies. The Calgary Police
Foundation also runs several programs
that put officers into schools to meet and
get to know youth across the city.
The brain story is part of a broad
change in the culture of the Calgary
Police Service. It’s about learning
how early life experiences influence
mental and physical health throughout
adulthood. “Everybody has a story,”
Chaffin says. “There’s a much
stronger pathway to public safety
through community wellness than
there is through coercion, force and
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There’s a much stronger pathway
to public safety through community
wellness than there is through
coercion, force and incarceration