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  • ESSEX FREE PRESS

Top three calls for police service in March were a result of proactive patrols

by Sylene Argent

At last Thursday’s meeting, members of the Essex Police Services Board learned the top calls for Essex for the month of March included 43 property checks, 33 community service checks, and 31 traffic enforcement matters, with Police heading to hot spots identified through complaints. These checks were a result of officer-driven, proactive patrols, Sergeant Todd Lavigne said.

  The 43 property checks are mostly done at night, with officers going to business, ensuring everything is locked up, and checking on cottages in Colchester to prevent break and enters, as some have been vacant for sometime, due to the pandemic. “It is an awesome number to have, it is all proactive,” Lavigne said.

  There were 26 traffic complaints in March, Lavigne explained, mostly occurring in the centre of the municipality, related to speeding.

  In addition, Lavigne explained there were also 22 property-related occurrences, including found or lost wallets or bicycles, in addition to other items found and brought forward to the OPP. There were 17 mental health calls – around half of which were for teens and half for adults. Of these, three instances were attempted suicides, where officers were able to get there in time and have these individuals admitted into hospital.

  In addition, in March, there were 17 bylaw enforcement complaints, 17 COVID self-isolation checks, 16 suspicious person instances, and 16 false alarm calls.

  Overall, there were 525 calls for service in Essex in March, which was an increase from 393 in March of 2020 and 454 in March of 2019.  The increase is not necessarily a bad thing, Lavigne said, as people are calling more to assist with problems. He said he doesn’t want anyone to be alarmed, as many of the calls were not daunting on police.

  In other OPP policed areas, Lakeshore had 825 calls for service in March, Kingsville had 498, Tecumseh had 604, and Leamington had 1136. With data from all five local OPP policed areas, this accounts for a 27.2 percent increase in calls for service in March 2021 compared to March 2020, the Report to the Police Services Board noted.

  Year to date in the five local OPP policed areas, there has been a 6.7 percent increase in calls in 2021, with a total of 9,853, compared to 9,233 in 2020.

  In March of 2021, the following calls were made to the OPP within Essex:

• Seven violent crime offences, resulting in four people arrested for robbery-related offences. Violent crime stats were down one in March compared to March 2020. It would have been lower, had it not been for that robbery call, Lavigne noted.

• 19 property crimes (there were 25 from the March prior). This includes vandalism and mischief;

• 13 motor vehicle collisions, including one where a minivan failed to yield to a transport on a through highway. Unfortunately, there was one fatality, where a 46-year-old female occupant of the minivan died as a result of the collision. There were 24 motor vehicle collisions in March of 2020;

• There were four impaired and exceed offences, which was up from one in March of 2020 and two in March of 2019. There were five drivers licence suspensions;

• There were 26 Criminal Code/YCJA Charges. There were 10 in March of 2020 and 27 in March of March 2019.

•  There were two CDSA charges in March in Essex. Combining all five local OPP policed areas, in addition to Provincial Units, there was a 211.1 percent increase in drug charges in March 2021 compared to March 2020.

• There were 16 provincial charges in March 2021 in Essex, compared to 30 the March prior and 114 in March of 2019. Lavigne said he will work to raise that number in the future.

• There were 12 emergency number misdials in Essex in March and 16 false alarms.

• Essex had seven RIDE programs, and 83-foot patrol hours.

• There were also 67 traffic stops in March, with 39 in March of last year and 116 in March of 2019. He believes that is due to COVID restrictions, and the number will increase in the future.

• There were 17 Mental Health Response Unit calls in March for Essex, with 15 taking place in March of 2020 and eight in March of 2019. There were 20 in Lakeshore, 15 in Kingsville, 48 in Leamington, and 14 in Tecumseh.

  Within the five OPP policed areas, there was a 49.4 percent increase in Mental Health Response Unit calls in March 2021 compared to March 2020. Year-to-date, Mental Health Response Unit calls are 36.3 percent higher in 2021 (327 calls) compared to 2020 (240 calls).

  Lavigne said mental health calls will be something that will either continue with being maintained or there will be an increase, with the pandemic happening. “We see a lot more calls for service having to do with mental health than we ever had in our careers,” Lavigne commented.

  The Youth Crisis Response Team (YMCRT) also responded to 40 calls for service in March 2021.

  In addition, Lavigne explained there were 197 auxiliary hours from the five OPP policed areas, with the addition of the Provincial Unit. There were no hours recorded to Essex, and Lavigne will look into if that was an error, and if not, will look into having the hours spread out better.