News Local

Property crimes, calls for service down in Petawawa

By Sean Chase, The Daily Observer


PETAWAWA – Calls for service, as well as the number of property crimes, have decreased over the past year in the town, the Petawawa Police Services Board reported Monday.

Property crimes, which include theft, fraud, mischief and break and enters, were down 22.4 per cent from 2016, while 20 per cent of those cases were ultimately solved. Violent crimes, including assault, criminal harassment and uttering threats, were up by 1.7 per cent, however, 89.9 per cent of those cases were resolved by investigators.

“The community is an extremely safe place to live,” said Inspector Stephan Neufeld, commander of the Upper Ottawa Valley OPP Detachment adding community involvement in solving cases and residents taking proactive measures has contributed to the decline in crime statistics. “We are just one cog in the community policing wheel.”

The number of calls for service declined from 1,623 in 2016 to 1,589 in 2017. That translated into a savings of $241 per household, a total of $15,000 off the town’s OPP bill. Detachment hours spent 2,038 hours on patrol in 2017, including 111 hours on foot, 20 hours monitoring snowmobile traffic and nine hours on the Ottawa River enforcing marinecraft regulations and safety. They also dedicated 224 hours during January-February alone to cracking down on aggressive driving which resulted in 88 charges.

Working to reduce the number of calls, the police services board has launched education and promotion campaigns, such as the Lock It or Lose It initiative. To reduce calls or assist police, the board has also asked residents to embrace easy to use interventions – like locking car doors, keeping an eye out for your neighbourhood and reporting suspicious behaviour, locking cell phones to prevent accidental 911 pocket-dials, and leaving the phone alone.

“The issues faced by police officers and the communities they serve are more complex than ever anticipated when the current Police Services Act and policing framework were developed in 1990,” said Councillor Treena Lemay, chairwoman of the Petawawa Police Services Board. “New and obvious considerations are necessary for both police and community to share the responsibility for community safety and all of us have a unique but very important role to play.”

The board has accomplished much over the past year, Lemay said. It successfully applied for and partnered with Victim Services of Renfrew County to obtain a $125,000 grant. She also praised the effectiveness of the “e-Cop” program. In 2017, more than 50 messages or “e-blasts” specific to the Town of Petawawa were disseminated. The topics ranged from door-to-door canvassers, news of neighbourhood issues, tips to prevent crime, some criminal charges laid, fraudulent activity and the prevalence of scammers and scams and ways to protect oneself. It is estimated that “e-Cop” reaches more than 550 people with every email post.

The board continued pushing safety on the highways with the “Safe on Seventeen” Facebook page. The page provided weekly news and information to thousands of viewers on subjects such as weather, accidents, road closures and OPP special focused patrols and special road campaigns that can affect the safe travel of those who used Highway 17 as it passes through Renfrew County. Readers of this page average 1,000 views per addition. It also aranged for the installation of two County-provided “Leave the Phone Alone” signs in April 2017 to complete the 2016 Distracted Driving campaign. The board, which includes Sharon Dainty and Pauline Wilson, revamped their manual policies, attended education sessions and hosted a booth at the Petawawa Showcase.

While the board and the town will be challenged by Bill 175, the Safer Ontario Act, Lemay said the province has yet to address their concerns, first raised in 2012, about the current detachment location at 1913 Petawawa Boulevard.

“If the current government is serious about ensuring that its police services personnel have adequate and appropriate accommodations, it needs look no further than the incomprehensible inaction of its own realty branch of Infrastructure Ontario to learn why this obligation cannot be met by the

municipality,” said Lemay. 

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