Lots of positives in OPP

By Allan Bradbury
Staff Writer

Inspector Shaun Crabbe, Commander of the Rainy River District OPP brought a report to district stakeholders at Rainy River District Municipal Association (RRDMA) annual meeting on Saturday.

In his report, Crabbe detailed operations and programs that the Rainy River OPP have worked on throughout 2021 and will work towards in 2022.

One of the big initiatives by the OPP was an operation called Project Jules. Project Jules was an investigation that over the course of several months saw 11 people arrested and half a million dollars worth of drugs taken off the streets. The drugs were mainly fentanyl and other opioids. Crabbe said the operation resulted in 69 criminal charges and saw multiple other investigations spin off from it.

Crabbe also told those in attendance about the success of the Community Street Crime Unit. This is a unit that is mandated to gather intelligence about street crimes such as drug trafficking and property crimes. The unit uses various investigative methods to gather intelligence about crimes. Two OPP officers and a Treaty 3 detective worked together to grow the OPP’s ability to gather intelligence.

“Drug enforcement in 2021 increased 208 per cent district-wide as a result of proactive intelligence gathering and targeted enforcement,” Crabbe said.

The street crime unit also assisted with a recent firearms trafficking investigation which removed over 80 restricted guns, counterfeit cash and body armour from the market and resulted in numerous criminal and firearms trafficking charges. Crabbe says this team will continue to target criminals who are selling and making money from illicit drug sales.

Crabbe also lauded the work of the detachment’s expanded Mobile Crisis Response Team (MCRT). Crabbe said that mental health and addictions issues are not necessarily always a part of the mandate of the OPP but often they are called for assistance to people who are experiencing issues with mental health and addictions issues.

“Nonetheless, the police are routinely engaged,” Crabbe said. “Either through other investigations, risks to individual or public safety or property, or because of 24/7 availability.”

But the MCRT does its best to have a co-response between police and trained mental health workers. This allows a person experiencing a mental health crisis to get the support they need and the relevant follow-up. Allowing for the police to continue with law enforcement and public safety duties. The Rainy River detachment works with the Canadian Mental Health Association and the program is active across the district. The team has expanded to have 2 full-time positions and one part time position as well as a dedicated OPP officer.

Crabbe also noted several statistics and trends in his report.

  • Overall, in 2021, the Rainy River District Detachment responded to nearly 13,000 calls for service, laid over 2700 criminal and provincial charges and responded to 541 motor vehicle collisions and over 1500 reports of violent or property crime
  • In general terms, the vast majority of crime trends and data in each individual municipality mirror 2019 data. (2021 and 2020 are difficult to compare given the number of COVID restrictions in place throughout 2020)
  • 2021 saw and upward tick in the three-year trends for:
    • Drug enforcement- largely linked with proactive investigations
    • Mental health calls-linked to the MCRT
    • Major Crimes such as Assault with a weapon, Aggravated Assault, and Sexual Assault
  • 2021 saw a decline in the three-year trends for:
    • Residential and commercial break and enters
    • Thefts
    • Shoplifting
    • Motor vehicle collisions
  • In 2021 the number of actual or suspected drug overdoses and related deaths investigated by or involving the OPP decreased by 34 per cent.
  • The number of times an OPP officer used naloxone to save a member of the public’s life increased by 120 per cent. (OPP officers always carry naloxone for personal protection in cases of accidental contamination.)

Crabbe also outlined several priorities that the detachment has for 2022. The detachment also hopes to spend more time working with the youth of the District to help reduce risk and use social media better to educate the public.

Another hope for the new year is to enhance their sexual assault interviewer program. All officers are trained to be able to conduct interviews, more needs to be done to help these kinds of victims.

“While all officers are trained in interviewing and communications techniques, we want to ensure we support victims of sexual assault in the most effective way possible,” Crabbe said.

To that end, specific training will be given to local officers and capacity will be created to investigate these sensitive and violent crimes in the most effective and compassionate way possible.

Crabbe said that the detectives of the Rainy River District have the highest major crime caseload in North Western Ontario which can be trying on the mental health of these investigators. Crabbe says they believe they have found a solution to some of these issues.

“We’ve had success at identifying a solution to redeploy positions from elsewhere into the district to enhance this capacity,” Crabbe said. “WHich will ensure we can continue to provide investigative excellence, support victims and present high quality evidence and investigations to the courts and best serve the District.”