Autumn Jerry is a team lead for the Lethbridge Watch Program.
She patrols city streets while doing wellness checks, looking for drug paraphernalia and being the eyes and ears for Lethbridge Police, emergency medical services and the fire department.
For Jerry, this is more than a job. It’s a step towards her lifelong-dream of becoming am RCMP officer in her home community of Siksika Nation in southern Alberta.
“Growing up on reserve you hear a lot of bad about RCMP or any type of police officer or anybody in authority,” she said while walking the streets of Lethbridge. Alta.
“I kind of want to break that gap between Aboriginals and First Nation policing.”
Jerry was inspired to become a Mountie by her grandfather Leonard Good Eagle, who retired from the RCMP in 1982.
“It was moreso the stories. He always said, ‘We had retired police dogs that lived in this house,’” she said.
“But being out here, it’s a lot different; knowing you can change people’s mindsets just by saying Hello.”
With recent events shining a bright light on systemic racism and police brutality across North America, Jerry said Indigenous cops are needed more than ever.
“Everything is not going to be good to say the least but once you start working with everybody, educating them.”
Jerry finished her Criminal Justice-Policing diploma at Lethbridge College. She said working with the Watch team has boosted her confidence in creating a positive relationship with the public.
It’s a skill she plans on using when policing in the future.
“I don’t want Aboriginals to grow up in communities where they don’t trust police officers,” said the 22-year-old.