OPP officers allowed to lead parades
While staffing levels don’t always allow on-duty OPP officers to take part in community events like parades, off-duty ones can volunteer to participate and use police vehicles.
Local detachment commander Insp. Steve Shouldice told the Police Services Board on Friday that it is hard to commit on-duty officers to lead parades, for example, because there’s no staff to spare and officers would have to respond to calls at a moment’s notice if necessary, which has happened in the past.
Insp. Shouldice said if he receives correspondence from a group looking for police volunteers, he will advertise the call-out to the officers but added it’s completely up to them if they want to volunteer or not.
An issue with this, however, is that once officers volunteer for one event, Insp. Shouldice will get a lot of requests for more help.
“Unfortunately, people are going to be disappointed when the officers decide they don’t want to,” he warned.
“And they shouldn’t be criticized for not volunteering,” he stressed. “They’re involved in a lot of community things on their own time.”
Coun. Rick Wiedenhoeft prompted the discussion, noting the question of whether a volunteer officer could drive a squad car in the Canada Day parade came up during Fun in the Sun planning earlier this year.
On a related note, Police Services Board members, including chair John McTaggart, voiced appreciation for OPP Sgt. Dereck McLean, who took time during his summer holidays to volunteer to provide security at the “Kraft Celebration Tour” festivities here Aug. 25.
Board members remarked it was too hot for them as it was, and couldn’t imagine what it would be like to wear 30 extra pounds of gear on that sweltering day.
Also at Friday’s meeting, Insp. Shouldice said the new “Kiss ’N Ride” has been a success in its first month since being implemented at local schools.
He added Tom Marinis, co-ordinator of MTO Road Safety Programs, said he’s never seen a “Kiss ’N Ride” program launched so well—adding kudos to all the partners who worked together to make it happen.
A debriefing for stakeholders is planned for Oct. 15 to talk about how the program launch went.
An evaluation of all stakeholders will be completed by the Northwestern Health Unit.
An MTO Road Safety Grant application has been submitted to support “Kiss ’N Ride,” which, if successful, will be used to buy road signs, parks, rain wear, pylons, and directional signs.
Tom Foley of JadMart, meanwhile, is creating a “how to” video for other communities to follow when implementing their own “Kiss ’N Ride” programs.
Other business at Friday’s meeting included:
•A rundown of crimes for the months of June-August indicated summer crime levels were on par with the five-year average.
Incidents included quite a few mischiefs, thefts under $5,000, and break and enters.
Of note was a male who was caught in July riding a stolen bike and then linked to three garage break-ins.
The same man was nabbed, along with another man, breaking into a garage in August.
At that time, he admitted to break-ins and break-ins to vehicles in the past that police said “were too numerous to mention.”
•The Community Drug Action Team continues to be busy, arresting and charging multiple individuals over the summer, as well as seizing marijuana, hashish, morphine, prescription pain-killers, and rifles.
•Coun. Wiedenhoeft was approved to attend the Ontario Association of Police Service Boards Zone 1 meeting in Thunder Bay on Oct. 10-11 (OPP S/Sgt. Scott Gobeil also will be going).
•The OPP will starting work on its three-year business plan (2014-16), and will be asking municipalities for their input.
•Cst. Aaron Dubray was transferred from the Rainy River detachment to the Emo detachment following the retirement of Cst. Paul Blais (Cst. Dubray occasionally will be working in Fort Frances).
•Sgt. Darryl Wright retired from the Atikokan OPP detachment, which now has new Sgt. Matthew Leblanc and his spouse, Cst. Lynette Dudar, on staff.
Cst. Ashleigh Dutton, meanwhile, has been reassigned from Atikokan to Fort Frances.
•Policing costs currently are running at $76,000 under estimate for the first six months of 2013.
•The summer was full of community service activities, with ongoing work by Cst. Anne McCoy, the OPP Youth Summer Camp (which took place near Thunder Bay but was attended by four district youth), and Youth-in-Policing Initiative students Jessica Coran and Sierra Cousineau engaging the community with bike rodeos, as well as the “Lock It or Lose It” and “Positive Ticketing” campaigns.
•The OPP is supporting a new Canadian Centre for Child Protection (CCCP) initiative to enhance youth online safety.
Youth who need support with online and off-line harassment should visit www.neeedhelpnow.ca