OPP strike team to tackle drug abuse

Duane Hicks

A independently-conducted community satisfaction survey regarding local policing which will presented to the Police Services Board tomorrow indicates residents are very concerned about illegal substance abuse.
As such, the local OPP detachment is taking extra measures to crack down on drugs.
During a quarterly police activity report given to town council Monday night, OPP Insp. John Kendrick said that according to the survey, “across the district, drug misuse within the community was the most significant of the concerns to the community.”
“The OPP have responded by introducing a Community Drug Action Team to the area, and a member of that will assist the detachment crime unit and detachment members when addressing drug concerns,” he explained.
“It will complement other programs that were already in place, such as the D.A.R.E. program and our partnership with the Rainy River District Safety Coalition, in addressing the issue,” he added.
Insp. Kendrick said there’s been some significant impacts on the local drug trade since the establishment of the program in July.
“Initial results have been positive regarding the Community Drug Action Team, and our local media will be kept informed of any significant incidents that are occurring in our area,” he noted.
Also in his report to council, Insp. Kendrick said criminal activity continues to decline here. As of the end of August, the Fort Frances OPP answered 3,283 calls for service—a 12 percent decrease from the same period last year (3,709) and five percent less than in 2007.
Insp. Kendrick said that, as per the OPP’s annual business plan, police are aiming to ensure safer highways, waterways, and trails by focusing on aggressive driving and impaired driving, as well as seatbelt compliance.
He noted R.I.D.E. checks have been ongoing in Fort Frances, with 212 hours of policing dedicated to them as of the end of August.
These yielded 20 impaired drivers being charged.
Meanwhile, OPP summer students conducted a seatbelt compliance survey and found an 89 percent compliance rate here.
“Some work needs to be done in this area to raise the compliance rate to a suggested provincial goal of 95 percent,” said Insp. Kendrick.
Since school has resumed, police also have been keeping a close eye on motorists in school zones and issued charges to drivers, particularly those disobeying traffic signals.
Also as laid out in the business plan, police are committed to enhancing public safety and crime prevention.
“We have a results driven policing process that’s been adopted by the OPP provincially over the past two years, which has aided the Rainy River District detachment in analyzing statistics related to traffic and crime on a monthly basis,” noted Insp. Kendrick.
“From this process, plans are developed and implemented quickly in order to address significant areas affecting the community,” he added.
As of the end of August, 271 incidents of property crimes (i.e., mischief, theft under $5,000, fraud, and arson) were reported—an decrease from 350 in 2008 and 352 over the same period in 2007.
Insp. Kendrick said the local detachment’s clearance rate for property crimes is 31 percent, which remains above the provincial average of 22 percent.
He added theft under $5,000 accounts for 40 percent of property crimes. Of these, 15 percent are related to bicycle thefts.
Insp. Kendrick said the OPP’s “Lock It or Lose It” campaign continues in an attempt to curb “opportunistic crimes.”
“A vast majority of these incidents would not have occurred if some attempt had been made to secure the property,” he noted.
As well, 167 incidents of violent crime were reported as of the end of August—down 16 percent from 2008 and 21 percent from 2007.
The local OPP’s clearance rate for violent crimes is 95 percent, which again is above the provincial average of 89 percent.
Forty-eight percent of these violent crimes were common assaults while 17 percent were somewhat higher level assaults. Uttering threats and criminal harassment made up the remainder.
The OPP also continues to participate in “Code Red” drills in local schools.
Finally, as outlined in the business plan, the local OPP also is working to help make improvements to emergency preparedness.
“Fort Frances OPP is currently working with Fort Frances Fire Department, CN Police, health officials, and the Canadian Border Security Agency, and our counterparts across the border, in order to share emergency plans that would have an international impact on both community,” Insp. Kendrick told council.
“The intent is to set up a conference in the next year in order to formalize these protocols to ensure our communities remains safe in an emergency,” he added.