Policing hours up in 2003

Fort Frances OPP put in almost 4,000 more hours on the job in 2003 than the year before, detachment commander S/Sgt. Hugh Dennis reported to council here Monday night.
In a year-end report, he said local officers worked 33,627 hours in 2003 compared to 29,629 for the previous year. They also responded to 4,056 incidents in 2003, up from 3,965 in 2002.
S/Sgt. Dennis noted the difference wasn’t necessarily due to crime being up here but to increased personnel. Last year, the local OPP detachment experienced numerous promotions, transfers, and retirements, leaving it a little short of officers.
“Now, we have a very healthy mix of junior, intermediate, and senior officers,” said S/Sgt. Dennis. “That translates into a very well-rounded group of personnel that are providing very competent police service to your community.”
He noted the amount of hours worked in 2003 exceeded the maximum in the contract with the town by around 2,000 hours, which to him meant not only were officers busy, but they were maintaining a strong presence in the community.
These extra hours are not paid for by the town, but the province.
This also translated into very effective policing, said S/Sgt. Dennis. For instance, the OPP’s district clearance rate for violent crime cases was 95 percent while it was 33 percent for property crime.
The national average for the latter is only 23 percent.
S/Sgt. Dennis noted many of the stats for 2003 were close to those recorded in 2002, with any differences being mainly due to increased work hours and, in some cases, variables like the weather.
For instance, in 2003, $12,155 in revenue was collected in the form of traffic accident reports, occurrence confirmations, and police record checks.
In 2002, this brought in $12,219.
In 2003, 272 Criminal Code charges were laid while that number was 302 in 2002.
There were 508 Highway Traffic Act charges laid in 2003 compared to 619 in 2002. But there were more charges laid under the Liquor Licence Act in 2003 (259) than the previous year (242).
And there were 31 charges under the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act in 2003—down from 37 in 2002.
The biggest difference between the two years was for municipal bylaw infractions. There were 57 of these in 2003, compared to a mere seven in 2002.
S/Sgt. Dennis chalked this up to more snowmobile violations and increased snowfall.
In 2003, there 145 parking violations compared to 184 in 2002.
S/Sgt. Dennis concluded by saying the OPP had a good year, with an extensive community presence thanks to more officers being trained in the D.A.R.E. program, as well as involvement in the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship and the centennial celebrations.
“It sounds like we’re in good shape,” said Mayor Dan Onichuk. “You and the force should be commended for what you’ve done.”
(Fort Frances Times)