By Laura McCaffrey
Photos by Akintunde Akinleye
Welcome to the Safe Jam
Nicholas Saucier fell in love with basketball when he was just seven years old. He grew up playing the sport and it has remained a passion of his in his adult life. Now, as a special constable in Carleton’s Campus Safety Services, he has a new passion: to protect, serve and help others.
In the fall of 2017, Saucier found a way to marry these two interests to do something good. He created an event called Safe Jam, a charity basketball tournament that brings together members of the Ottawa community in order to raise money for Special Olympics Ontario. This year, eight teams participated in the tournament, including players from Campus Safety Services, Student Safety Patrollers, Carleton University’s Student Association (CUSA), Oliver’s Pub Security and the Ottawa Police.
Inspired by a Culture of Good
Special Constable Saucier was inspired to organize an event of this nature by the culture within his industry and department. Campus Safety Services prioritizes community partnerships, engagement and outreach, as is demonstrated in the department’s tagline: Protection Through Partnership 24/7. The department delivers various programs and initiatives throughout the year that are focused on giving back, such as preparing food hampers at Christmas for the Ottawa Mission and offering a new scholarship for criminology students at Carleton University.
“It’s big for our department to give back,” says Brian Billings, director of Campus Safety Services. “That’s one of the values we believe in. It’s all about community.”
The wider policing community in Ottawa also places a large emphasis on community engagement. “I used to work in a jail for young offenders and was a recreation officer for a period of time,” Saucier recollects. “In that role, I saw how sport can bridge gaps, connect people and build a sense of community.
“I currently play for the Ottawa Police Hoopstars basketball team, which connects law enforcement with youth in Ottawa through friendly basketball games,” Saucier continues. “I’ve seen first-hand the impact I can have through sport and volunteering, which helped inspire the Safe Jam concept.”