Traffic, pedestrian safety and mental health continue to be the focus for the Belleville police department.
On Wednesday morning, Police Chief Ron Gignac told the Belleville Chamber of Commerce traffic safety is paramount and expressed a need for another traffic service officer to join the current dedicated team of three.
He said his officers recorded 1,566 more highway traffic act charges in 2016. Also a recent survey completed in partnership with Loyalist College Journalism students concluded traffic safety is a number one concern for Belleville residents.
Chief Gignac expressed concern over the fact that within the last month there have been impaired driving collisions with one resulting in a fatality and others where serious ‘life-altering injuries’ have been sustained.
Chief Gignac also said mental health continues to be a top priority as officers responded to 767 mental health related calls in 2016.
Gignac said about 43% of all police calls have some form of mental health attachment. He pointed to the Situation Table, with many local partners including himself who are looking at the issue head on. He added more is needed to assure officers have programs and experts in place in time of mental health crisis.
Local Canadian Mental Association Executive Director Sandie Sidsworth, also in attendance, said she’s not surprised by the numbers adding more needs to be done especially when it comes to supporting the community’s most vulnerable.
“We are seeing an increase in housing those who are ill and need support,” Sidsworth said. “It is a very frightening place to be in because housing and wellness go hand in hand.”
Gignac also expressed the importance of building partnerships within the community, something Chamber CEO Jill Raycroft stated the business community was keen to see.
“We are moving towards something great,” said Raycroft. “We have potential for growth with people moving into the City. We have this amazing opportunity to come together. His message of partnership and that we are all in it together is exactly what we want to support as well.”