A downtown business owner is commending the Belleville Police Service for an increase in foot patrol in the core.
In February, the BPS recorded 18 hours of community patrol downtown. A quarterly report wasn’t available at Thursday’s police board meeting because the program is in initial stages but it will be ready at the next meeting in May. Total crime stats for the City during the 4th quarter of 2016 were presented and show a 28.7% decrease in actual crimes when compared to the same time frame in 2015.
Business owner and board member Tom Lafferty said he has spoken with a number of fellow merchants who are ‘over the moon’ by the added police presence adding it is making a difference in the overall feel in the core.
Police Chief Ron Gignac said it’s important to have a visible presence because it’s a deterrent to protect citizens and the City’s investment for the revitalization of the downtown core. He added through visibility, presence and downtown surveillance cameras they are working to ensure the core is vibrant.
Gignac said when they were completing their new community safety plan they put a priority on the data collected from a Loyalist Journalism program survey that concluded protection in the core is one of the top five concerns for many residents.
Board Chair Mayor Taso Christopher commended the officers for their continued presence.
“I often drive through the core,” said Christopher. “It gives you a warm feeling when you see the officers down there with their toques and mittens on.”
Another much anticipated policing tool meant to give the department some added visibility will be unveiled at a ceremony next week – the new police cruisers. Gignac said they have begun moving them in through attrition and Deputy Chief Mike Callahan added everyone will get an opportunity to check them out at the ceremony.
As mentioned earlier, overall crimes show a 28.7% decline, however some areas saw a significant jump in the 4th quarter of 2016.
Robberies were up with 11, compared to just two in the final quarter of 2015. Break and enters jumped 90.6% between the two quarters with 61 in 2016 and 32 in 2015. There were 13 motor vehicle thefts in 2016 compared to zero in 2015. Frauds were up to 71 from 58 in 2015.
There were no homicides in the 4th quarter of 2016 down from 1 in 2015. Assaults were down from 116 to 87 in 2016. Sex offences decreased slightly by 16 to 112 in 2016. Drug offences dropped to 57 from 65 in 2015. Criminal harassment slipped to 34 from 61 cases in 2015.
Other notable stats from 2016 saw Belleville Drug and Intelligence & Street Crime Unit execute 31 search warrants, 49 suspects arrested and 139 charges laid, 60 of which were in the 4th quarter of 2016 with 29 for possession of a controlled substance (marijuana, cocaine / heroin) for the purpose of trafficking. Over the year $134,952.50 in drugs were seized: 290.5 grams of cocaine ($29,050), 2,121.5 grams of marijuana ($31,822.50), 69 marijuana plants ($69,000), 8.5 grams of heroin ($2,290) and 186 units of morphine/hydromorphone ($2,790). $69,809.90 in cash was seized as well.
Belleville’s Traffic Management Unit handed out 346 charges for driving infractions during the fourth quarter of 2016.