Drug unit may get larger
By Heather Spadafore
Local News - Tuesday, August 23, 2005 @ 07:00
With the recent headlines involving marijuana grow operations being discovered in the region, the Timmins police chief has numerous plans to take advantage of increased funding for more officers.
The provincial government recently announced it will invest $37 million to fund the hiring of 1,000 new police officers.
Sixty officers will be allocated to Northern Ontario and First Nations communities, which will receive $70,000 for each officer. The rest of the province can get $35,000 for each new officer.
On average, police officers in Ontario earn between $40,000 and $70,000.
Police chief Richard Laperriere said the funding will help address some of the issues faced in this area.
“They’ve identified special needs for Northern Ontario, which are great,” he said. “It would meet some of our needs and address some of the issues we do have in the North.”
The application for funding has already been completed and will be sent in before the Sept. 30 deadline.
Laperriere said he is looking to hire nine new officers.
“I don’t know what we will get,” he said. “There’s definitely a need for it here, and we do in fact need some assistance.”
If the application is approved, Laperriere said the areas he would like to see enhanced include the drug section.
He would like to see two officers added to the unit to help in investigations
and in busting illegal grow operations.
“Here in Timmins, we are geographically located and sort of considered the gateway of the North in respect to illegal drug trafficking,” he said. “It’s been made very clear to me that we do have organized criminals here in our area, and they do in fact have a base in our community.”
“We do have a problem and this is a real serious concern. We would like to spend more resources in that area.”
Another area is youth crime, where two officers are currently assigned.
Laperriere said those officers are responsible for young offenders and victims of sexual assault and child abuse. They also investigate missing persons cases and runaways.
He wants to see one officer added to the youth bureau.
“I also want to forge partnerships with other youth-oriented agencies, like the Children’s Aid Society,” he said.
A drastic rise in calls for service, up by 19.6 per cent as outlined in the 2004 annual report, also shows the need for more officers on patrol.
“That number tells us that our front-line personnel are being taxed with more and more responsibilities,” he said. “The time spent on interaction with citizens is severely limited.”
He would like to see one officer added to each of the four platoons. That would allow officers to provide more community policing and be more pro-active in crime-prevention initiatives.
The province wants 500 of the new police hires allocated to community policing, such as patrolling neighbourhoods and visiting schools.
It wants the other 500 divided among six priority areas: guns and gangs, youth crime, organized crime, child pornography and domestic violence.
Having a full-time domestic violence co-ordinator is high on the list for the Timmins Police Service.
“We do have a co-ordinator in place, but basically, he has double duty,” Laperriere said. “He’s our court liaison officer and responsible for bail hearings.
“It would be nice to have one officer devoted full-time to domestic violence issues.”
With the Ministry of the Attorney General establishing a domestic violence court in the city, the co-ordinator’s mandate will be to streamline the bail court process, and he would be clearly identified for domestic violence and court liaison responsibilities, Laperriere said.
But perhaps one of the most concerning areas in need of extra officers is traffic enforcement.
“We really have to do a better job in regards to that,” Laperriere said. “I’m very concerned in reference to the number of accidents throughout the city.”
He said one extra officer could be assigned to enforcement initiatives and could also provide expanded community services, such as presentations, educational seminars and general interaction with members of the public.
“We have to do a better job in enforcement, and we have to send a message out there,” he said.
When, or if, Timmins gets the funding is still unclear.
The application has already been sent to the Timmins Police Services Board and will then go to the chief administrative officer of the city for approval.
“I guess (the government) will wait and assess each application, and hopefully they’ll see merit in our application and meet our needs,” he said. “I would think in a couple of months, we should have a response to the application, clearly identifying what they are prepared to give us.”
Note: The Timmins Police have had a corrupt relationship with the local Children's Aid Society for many years.
In 1998 for example, the CAS actually had a worker at a desk inside the Timmins Police Station.
The local welfare office had at least one worker who had a close relationship with the CAS who appeared to make child apprehensions from a list of names of single mothers on welfare.
In many cases, evidence was fabricated, gross exaggerations were made to justify apprehensions or to keep children in care and of course, to make the children crown wards.
The provincial court judge favoured by the CAS and their tag team partners, the Timmins Police is Judge Richard Lajoie.
For more information on corruption in the Timmins Police Force and local Timmins agencies, visit http://www.Timmins101.com