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Increased security at homeless shelter

Cara Loverock
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, January 14, 2009

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE - A new security system at the Salvation Army building has made for a safer environment for both staff and clients, according to a director there.

Julie Gould-Benreddad, director of community services at the Salvation Army, said the new security system was installed last month. She said it has allowed staff to intervene in situations before they become violent.

"We've seen a decrease in unsolved incidents and prevention has stepped up," she said.

"There's more accountability of staff and clients (with the cameras)."

On Oct. 22, 2007 a man spending the night there was badly beaten at the Salvation Army by another shelter user.

The assailant received a two-year sentence for assault causing bodily harm after he was found guilty of beating and kicking the man in the face.

The homeless shelter can house up to 53 people in one night, according to Gould-Benreddad. Before the security system was put in place the staff had to try and monitor the shelter by walking through and checking rooms. Now they are able to monitor and record activity in various locations from the main office.

The security system was purchased thanks to a financial contribution from the Northern consulting firm, Whiteworks Consulting. This was the company's third annual contribution to Yellowknife's Salvation Army.

Gould-Benreddad also said the cameras, which are located inside as well as outside the building, allow for staff to watch for people outside, especially on cold winter nights.

"We can watch for movement in case someone might be out there freezing," she said.

RCMP Const. Kathy Law said the security system will be an asset to the shelter for safety.

"You can see what's going on inside and out," she said. "It's good for our files as well. It's just another way of proving a case."

Law said that if there is an altercation, such as an assault, then a video tape would help if the matter goes to court.