CORNWALL – Crime in the Seaway City is down again overall with a major dent in drug-related offences.
Year-end statistics for 2015, reviewed by the city police board Wednesday morning, show drug violations were down 26.7 per cent (27 occurrences), violent crimes were down 5.8 per cent (48 occurrences) and offences categorized as other crime were down 3.6 per cent (28 occurrences) compared to the year before.
The only increase was in property crime, which jumped 5.5 per cent (80 occurrences) compared to 2014.
In an interview with Cornwall Newswatch, Police Chief Dan Parkinson says there’s a “vast social dynamic” about fighting crime which requires the manpower of 87 uniformed officers.
“We’re not making cookies. We are attempting to ensure a level of community safety that’s acceptable to all people, that they’re not afraid to walk down the street at night and go through a park,” Parkinson said.
“It’s not widgets, it’s not cookies,” the chief said. “We are working with the right number of people now because obviously the numbers are continuing to head down. If we took officers off those assignments we may, in fact, start to see a recurring trend back upwards again with those numbers. We don’t want to get on that carousel, we want to keep crime under control,” he said.
“Trust me, we’re not waiting for a phone call to make an arrest. We are out there actually working hard to make sure we don’t have to deal with that call to start off with,” Parkinson said.
Technology still giving 911 operators grief
While the number of hangups to 911 was down 21 per cent in 2015 (926 cases compared to 1,176 in 2014), Parkinson doesn’t believe the problem of 911 hangups is licked, by any means.
“We are going to continue to have problems with butt dials. 911 hangups, intentional hangups are one thing, but 911 hangups that are caused by technological failures are something as we as a police community are working with manufacturers to try to eliminate the ability for people to speed dial 911,” he said.
The police service has also worked with Bell Canada in the past to remove problem pay phones from some areas to reduce the problem. “We have taken certain (pay) phones out of circulation…that were rarely being used. That has had a beneficial effect.”
The chief said the “vast majority” of the occurrences are so-called ‘butt diallers’ – people who sit on their cell phone or press on a phone in their pocket and inadvertently call emergency responders.
Making inroads with domestic assault
Chief Parkinson believes they are making some inroads on breaking the cycle of spousal and domestic assault in the city.
The number of sexual assault, aggravated assault and ‘Level 1’ assault (slapping, punching, hitting etc.) are down five, 33 and 15 per cent respectively.
“We are very excited about a unique project here in Cornwall, our domestic violence project, which we just received some funding from the province for – this is offender focused. We continue to be very mindful of the victims of domestic violence. That’s not going to change or waver,” Parkinson told CNW.
He said they are starting to focus on people who might re-offend and encouraging them to go through counselling.
The city has funded a coordinator for the Domestic Offender Action Plan program for roughly $24,000
The chief said a report will be coming to the police board later this year on the progress.