Nelson Police Department’s Restorative Justice Program

Nelson Police Restorative Justice Program

Nelson Police Department’s Restorative Justice Program garnering great volunteer support.

Training for program that aims for a more compassionate community by putting perpetrators and victims face-to-face starts in September.

Nelson —The Nelson Police Department is making great headway in its search for volunteers for its innovative Restorative Justice Program — and with training slated to begin soon, the NPD is making an urgent last call for all who may still be interested in signing up.

The program places would-be law breakers face-to-face with those they’ve affected by their actions, and together, perpetrators and victims explore ways to repair the harm that’s been done.

“This program will do far more to make a first-time offender recognize that they have done harm to others, as well as to themselves, than the criminal justice system could ever hope to accomplish,” says NPD Chief Wayne Holland. “The personal interaction between the perpetrators — who often are former victims themselves — and the citizens who have been wronged can result in a young person being motivated to change the direction of his or her life, for their benefit as well as that of their community.”
Since the first call for volunteers went out this spring, 10 locals have been interviewed in preparation for the program’s intensive training course, which will run from September through December.

“I’ve been very impressed with applicants’ backgrounds and varied experiences,” says Restorative Justice Program Coordinator Gerry Sobie, who is leading the effort along with NPD Sergeant Dino Falcone. “I hear the commitment and passion in their voices,” Sobie adds.

Sobie says his candidates come from a broad background of professions including computational sciences, environmental management, city administration, social work, automotive technician, retired educators, food services and retail.

One of the volunteer applicants is retired school principal and 35-year Nelson resident Wayne Prentice, who says the program will have great benefits for the city.
“It’s a process through which relationships are restored,” says Prentice, a longtime local elementary school principal up until his retirement in 2007. “If a crime has been committed, both the victim and perpetrator need restoring so both can be functional and productive again in our community. The responsible party must understand and accept responsibility for her/his actions.”

Sobie says Restorative Justice will help make Nelson a healthier, more compassionate community than it already is.

Restorative Justice training will run on Saturdays and weekday evenings starting in September. The program is looking for another 10 volunteers.

If you’re interested in learning more, contact Gerry Sobie at NPD phone 250-354-3919 or Volunteer application forms are at the front desk of the Nelson Police Department or online on the NPD website.

Media Contact:
Gerry Sobie, RJ Program Coordinator
c. 250-777-3979 p. 250-354-3919

Sgt. Dino Falcone
p. 250-354-3919

Bear Aware

At approximately 1315 hours on July 21, 2014, the Nelson Police Department received a complaint of a bear swimming across the lake towards the Prestige Lakeside Resort. The bear climbed onto the dock and startled boaters and patrons in the restaurant patio area.

According to Conservation, this particular juvenile bear had been causing extensive damage on the North Shore and was highly habituated to the area’s human food sources. Conservation staff received several calls over the last two weeks regarding this bear. A conservation officer was called to the scene and unfortunately the bear was killed as a result of the aforementioned reasons.

The Public is reminded to clean up all attractants, pick their fruit, cover their barbeques, and ensure that their garbage is secure until pick-up day.

As a reminder for the City of Nelson residents, if any garbage is stored, placed or discarded in a manner that may be accessible to wildlife, the resident may be subject to fines not exceeding Two Thousand ($2,000.00) Dollars under the City of Nelson Waste Management and Wildlife Attractant Bylaw No. 3198, 2011.

Bear sightings should be reported to the Conservation Officer Service at 1 877 952-7277.
Bear Aware is an excellent resource for information on bears in the urban interface. Information can be located at or from printed pamphlets available at the Nelson Police Department.

Nelson Police Speed Watch Program

nelson police speed watch


Nelson Police Department Reserves in action during ICBC Speed Watch Campaign

What is the idea behind the speed reader board at the roadside? Is speed watch out to help the police see that speeding drivers get charged? Why are the people writing notes? These are common questions asked about a very valuable volunteer group in your community.

To learn more about speed watch go to Drive Smart.

International Association of Women Police

Nelson Police Department’s 3 female officers recently attended the “Women in Policing Conference” presented by the International Association of Women Police.

IAWPCst. Lisa Schmidtke; Sgt. Janet Scott-Pryke; Cst. Sarah Hannah

nelson police IAWPCst. Lisa Schmidtke; Cst. Sarah Hannah; Sgt. Janet Scott-Pryke

Nelson Police Department rolls out innovative Restorative Justice Program

Restorative Justice Falcone & Sobie

‘Second chance’ approach focuses on people and relationships hurt by crime

Nelson — What kind of community do we want to live in? One where bad choices always are punished? Or one where there are second chances? The Nelson Police Department is opting for the latter. How? With the introduction of Restorative Justice as an option to criminal charges when a crime has been committed. In the face of crime and conflict, Restorative Justice is a philosophy and approach that views crime and conflict principally as harm done to people and relationships. The program is looking for volunteers, and is being led by NPD Sergeant Dino Falcone and coordinated by Restorative Justice Program Coordinator Gerry Sobie, who helped establish and run the Cranbrook RCMP Restorative Justice Program, from 2005 to 2009.

1. How does the Restorative Justice program work, what does it aim to do, where else is it in use?
It is difficult to provide a brief answer. First of all, a definition of Restorative Justice could be, “a process to involve, to the extent possible, those who have a stake in a specific offense and to collectively identify and address harms, needs, and obligations, in order to heal and put things as right as possible.” Translated in action, the Nelson Police Department Restorative Justice program would receive a file from an arresting officer. An individual has been charged with a criminal offense and accepts responsibility for his/her actions and is prepared to meet with the victim to begin to repair the harm resulting from the offense. The victim is invited to participate. All those who voluntarily meet regarding this matter are prepared for the encounter. There may be supporters for the offender and victim as well as members of the community who have been affected by the incident. The offender and victim agree on ways to begin repairing the harm done. Once the offender completes her/his agreement, the matter is resolved and does not proceed to the Criminal Justice system. The offender has been given the opportunity to resolve this offense in an alternate manner that does not affect one’s criminal record.

This is a brief overview of how our process would work. Restorative Justice Programs have been implemented in many BC communities, in Canada and throughout the world. Actually, there are elements of Restorative Justice that originated with circle meetings Aboriginals used and developed over time. BC enjoys a reputation for having many different Restorative Justice Programs. RCMP “E” Division has assigned staff to train volunteers in communities that wish to establish programs. We have a unique opportunity to develop a “made in Nelson” Restorative Justice Program to address and meet our community’s needs.

2. How do people get involved, how can the public help?
For our program to function, we will require volunteers to take intensive training to learn how to meet with offenders and victims, prepare them for coming together, conducting the meetings, and mentor offenders to successfully complete their agreements. We’ve been assured by Sgt. Falcone that appropriate files will be diverted to Restorative Justice once we have volunteers to handle them.

Without volunteers, the program will not function. We are appealing to our community of Nelson for volunteers who may be interested to learn more. Expectations would be prospective volunteers complete an application, meet for an interview, submit to a Criminal Record check, and be prepared to commit up to 10 hours a month to volunteering and training. This program can contribute to the health and well-being of our city and community.

We have applications for volunteers available on the Nelson Police Department website ( or at the front desk of the Station at 606 Stanley Street. Anyone interested is asked to complete an application and submit to Nelson Police Department Restorative Justice Program either by mail or dropped off.

3. Program Coordinator Gerry Sobie’s experience: Cranbrook’s successful Restorative Justice Program
I took training in facilitating offender-victim meetings in 2004 while living in Cranbrook. I was the volunteer coordinator for developing the Cranbrook & District Restorative Justice Society. I worked out of the RCMP Detachment. In 2007 I was certified to conduct Community Justice Forum training under the auspices of RCMP “E” Division. We had up to 25 trained volunteers in Cranbrook who handled up to 45 files a year.

4. What’s the new RJ program’s relationship with the existing Kootenay RJ program?
The Kootenay Restorative Justice Society (KRJS) was formed 12 years ago and provides restorative justice and preventative bullying programs to the Slocan Valley, Salmo, Nelson and surrounding areas. They receive their referrals from RCMP as well as schools and community members. As we develop our Nelson Restorative Justice (NRJ) program, we would like to collaborate with KRJS by sharing resources and training. However, the source of Nelson referrals will be our local Police Department.

5. Quotes on the Restorative Justice Programs success:
“The Nelson Police Board is extremely pleased with the implementation of our own Restorative Justice program here in Nelson. A citizen deserves an opportunity to make amends to society and to their victims. This program, which has my support, has been previously successful in removing any barriers that may exist between a first-time offender, their victims and our law enforcement personnel. ” Mayor John Dooley, Chair – Nelson Police Board

“Restorative Justice is a compassionate, cost-effective and time-tested method of recognizing the harm done to a victim. It also encourages a first-time offender to return to a life-style that respects the rights of others and provides them with the opportunity to be law-abiding and productive members of the community. Mr. Sobie has the full support of the men and women of the Nelson Police Department.” Chief Constable Wayne Holland – Nelson Police Department

“As the Department’s Community Policing Officer, I support any initiative that allows a victim and an offender, by means of a trained community facilitator, to resolve their differences and restore peaceful relations, without the necessity to rely on a costly and time consuming criminal justice and/or court system. I look forward to working with Gerry Sobie and our volunteers to make our goal of having our own Restorative Justice capacity here in Nelson a reality.” Sergeant Dino Falcone – Community Policing Officer – Nelson Police Department

Media contact:
Sergeant Dino Falcone
P. 250-354-3919
Gerry Sobie
P. 250-354-3919
C. 250-777-3979

Related Link:

Restorative Justice Volunteer Opportunity

The Restorative Justice program is responsible for helping youth and young adults achieve responsible solutions for when rules have been broken. They are also involved in increasing dialogue in our community by education and role-modeling consensus building and discussion.

The Restorative Justice process is designed to:

  • Provide support to those who have been harmed to enable them to discuss how they have been impacted and to have questions answered.
  • Have those who have caused harm talk about the circumstances of the incident, describe what they believe the effects of their actions have been and take responsibility for the harm caused.
  • Give involved community members the opportunity to talk about how the incident has impacted them.
  • To build consensus for a meaningful, reasonable and fair resolution.
  • Identify and encourage participants to support the outcomes of the conference process and to ensure appropriate follow-up.

Restorative Justice Volunteer Opportunity:

Because of the seriousness of the work, RJ has to be very selective of the volunteers they take on for casework.  Unfortunately they cannot guarantee that everyone who applies will be accepted as a caseworker, and they ask for your understanding if you are not asked to participate in the training.

RJ also want potential volunteers to know that becoming a caseworker requires a significant time commitment.  (Approximately 8-10 hours a month).

Volunteer Application Form