Downtown Safety: Oxford Properties shifted from a policing and enforcement model of mall security to a compassion- and trauma-informed approach

CUIxUrban Residencies | CUIxYEG (Edmonton) | Main Street | Mental health

Edmonton City Centre is located in Downtown Edmonton and sees a million visitors each year. Some of those guests have experienced or are experiencing significant trauma in their lives. They may be living with the scars of adverse childhood events (ACES) or they may have fallen on hard times, unable to find work or housing; many are living with serious mental illness and its constant and debilitating companions – stigma and discrimination. And, many rely on substances to ease the pain of it all. For these people, the mall can be a sanctuary.

One of the ways Oxford Properties formalized its new approach was to work with its security team at Paladin Security to create and offer training called “Compassion to Action”. This one-day training focuses on moving from “protection to connection” and trauma informed care (TIC), which encourages understanding people through the lens of “What happened to you?”, rather than“What’s wrong with you?”. TIC also emphasizes understanding how what has happened to people shapes who they are today and how they behave. This includes learning about adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), what to look for, how to create an environment of engagement, and how to connect with people who have experienced trauma in their lives. Practical advice about connecting with local agencies is also included. Finally, the training helps participants learn how to keep one’s mind “solid” when responding to traumatic events such as deaths by suicide; how to protect and maintain one’s own mental health; and, how to ask for help when needed.

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