Thunder Bay police chief calls for more `proactive policing’
By Karen Edwards
By Karen Edwards
THUNDER BAY – With calls for police service gradually increasing over the last few years, the city’s police service is focusing on becoming more of a proactive police force in order to alleviate the pressures faced by frontline officers.
In a report prepared for a police services board meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 17, Thunder Bay Chief of Police Sylvie Hauth explained the current workloads of city police officers and the steps being taken for a more proactive police service.
“There is always a need for us as a service to have one aspect of preventative measures within our service,” Hauth said. “We can’t be totally a reactive service where we always come in after the fact.”
In the first three quarters of 2020, the Thunder Bay Police Service responded to more than 42,000 incidents, or 156 incidents per day on average, according to the report.
Many of these calls are related to mental health, addiction, domestic violence, by-law and other violent crime calls for service.
“All these calls are time-consuming and often involve several officers being occupied with a single call for several hours,” the report states. “This often leads uniform patrol officers with such a high workload that lunch breaks are frequently missed and overtime is incurred.”
The report, prepared by Hauth, was in response to a question raised at the Oct. 20 board meeting surrounding how police are responding to calls for service and what areas could use improvement.
“When you look at our core policing functions we have really crept away from what our mandate is as a service,” Hauth said. “That’s just the reality, you call 911, we will show up whether it is mental health, bylaw issue or anything else.”
Hauth explained how this is led the service to go into a reactive model.
“It’s because we only have so many resources and often we can’t keep up and we keep reacting, you call, we go,” she said. “It’s often only a band-aid solution where we are not addressing the root causes.”
In the last few years, the city’s police service has implemented various units in an effort to focus on more proactive policing, Hauth said.
Some of those measures include the implementation of a Domestic Violence Unit, online crime reporting, a mobile mental health crisis team, and most recently a patrol support callback unit implemented in the spring.
“Proactive policing is important it makes a huge impact in terms of not only community safety but the partnerships we build within the community,” Hauth said.
Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, THUNDER BAY SOURCE