Tag Archives: police

Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council: Death By Politics.

“Once your belief in the power of punishment to solve social problems is shaken, your whole politics will start shifting.” @l_melo_h on twitter.

For a number of years, the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council has seen the writing on the wall. This past year, they asked to no longer be an arms length organization of the Region of Waterloo.

A number of years ago, Police Chief Matt Torigian held a meeting to talk about this wonderful idea he had discovered out west. It was essentially another Crime Prevention Council. I remember standing up at the meeting and asking about this similarity. Over the years, police travelled to places around the world looking for ideas for crime prevention. They ignored the Crime Prevention Council in their backyard.

On January 26th, Regional Council approved a framework for the Community Safety and Wellbeing plan to much back patting and congratulation of those in the community who have been consulted. https://www.regionofwaterloo.ca/en/health-and-wellness/community-safety-and-wellbeing-plan.aspx

On March 31, 2022, the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council will be no more, the staff dismissed. Five years of funds will be given to Community Justice Initiatives as part of their new Justice hub initiative which will include the Crime Prevention Council, although there is no way of knowing what that new council will look like or if the funds will continue at the end of the five years.

According to minutes of the prevention council’s May 8, 2020 meeting Redman told the council the status quo was not an option because of budget constraints and overlapping mandates with Wellbeing Waterloo Region.

Three options were presented by Redman at the time: shut down, reimagine the council’s work and potentially partner with Wellbeing Waterloo Region or leave the regional umbrella and receive two years of regional funding.

The crime prevention council reports directly to the regional chair.

Quote from The Record: https://www.therecord.com/news/waterloo-region/2022/01/24/crime-prevention-council-merges-into-justice-hub.html

The Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council was ignored when they pointed out that for 28 years, this community collaborative has been doing the very same work as the Community Safety and Well Being Framework (The WRCPC was once called the Waterloo Region Community Safety and Crime Prevention Council). The Crime Prevention Council was turned down when they applied to do the behind the scenes running of the Wellbeing organization. 18 months ago, the Region of Waterloo terminated the Executive Director and took over WRCPC. The community board no longer had any power.

In 2001, my first year on Regional Council, I ended up as a regional rep on the Waterloo Regional Crime Prevention Council. In this conservative community, I was surprised an arms-length community organization that promoted crime prevention though social development was funded by the Region of Waterloo.

The Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council (WRCPC) was an initiative core funded by the Region of Waterloo since 1994.  Started by the late MP Andrew Telegdi, former Councillor Mark Yantzi, former Regional Chair Ken Seiling and Chief Larry Graville, among others, its work was rooted in a long history of restorative justice and community stewardship in Waterloo Region. Here is a list of accomplishments.

  • First council of its kind in Canada that got to define what crime prevention through social development means, i.e. make the connection to other social issues such as poverty, homelessness, problematic substance use. The creation of root causes. Many other councils followed their model of government community partnership.
  • Instrumental in starting the National Municipal Network on Crime Prevention www.safercities.ca that put Waterloo Region on the map (visitors from Japan, China, Norway, Mexico, many municipalities from across the country, the UN, and many more visited to get advice from the council and to visit many projects)
  • Pulled significant funds into the Region for projects such as InReach (street gang prevention). A lot of corporations supported campaigns such as Say Hi, Look Deeper, Reach out.
  • Working hard to get Naloxone into the hands of those who needed it.
  • Authoring the first statistical report on the actual numbers of overdose deaths in Waterloo Region.
  • Supporting neighbourhoods through engagement staff and such projects as Safe and Sound .
  • Strong advocating in many areas of justice such as mandatory minimum sentences, safe schools legislation, and the opioid crisis.
  • Supporting many community organizations throughout the years. Many of them were at the start up stage. For example: WAVYE (Waterloo region youth against violence everywhere),  KW Coalition of Muslim women, African Caribbean network, Alliance for Children and Youth (now the Child and Youth Planning Table which remains at the Region).
  • Hosting the Justice dinners that gave voice to many diverse issues
  • Developing the Friend program and Porch Chats that mobilized the grass roots
  • Starting the Upstream campaign, the course on Critical Reflections and the notion of “smart on crime” All of these are now mainstream
  • Assessing annually public perceptions about crime and fear of crime which the municipalities used for planning
  • Developing curriculum at Conestoga college for a degree in Community and Criminal Justice that is unique in the country   
  •                                                                                                                                                      
  • Evaluating and researching the impact of COVID on domestic and intimate partner violence
  • Speaking about sex trafficking prevention
  • Researching and reporting for the community on issues of significance such as the gap analysis when it comes to violent offenders, the reintegration challenges for women from GVI
  • Creating policy papers always based on community input such as the Integrated Drugs Strategy, the Breaking the Silence Against Violence Against the LGBTQ Community and Islamophobia,

But along with all these successes came controversy. This is particularly true concerning the opioid crisis. Promotion of Naloxone, a drug that when administered on the spot can stop death from an overdose, was met with foot dragging at other levels of government.

Complaints came to the Region from the province and the feds that the Council was too radical in their stance. Persistence paid off and now the drug and training on administering Naloxone is readily available. Lives have been saved.

I believe police and social services did not understand why an organization funded by the Chair’s office wasn’t under their control and was instead led by a community board. (Something that needs to be addressed as the Community Safety and Wellbeing Framework moves ahead with a lot of members from Region of Waterloo staff on its committees.)

Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council formed a community of practice; a place where people came for close to 30 years to make difficult discussions. A place where there was honest dialogue about what was happening in Waterloo Region. An organization that fostered change and got things done.

Praise for the Community Safety and Well Being Framework is lovely, but the proof will be if they actually follow up on the changes recommended for our community. The status quo is hard to move. Good luck to them.

Defunding the Police

Defunding the Police

When I was a Regional Councillor, every year we struggled over the budget, trying to get it down to a 1 or 2 percent increase. We would debate adding a million to our social service budget for “unnecessary” items that had been cut back by the provincial government. Things like eyeglasses, walkers, food hampers and dental care for the working poor. Eventually we put money towards some of these necessities for the poor. Money, but not enough, was added for social housing. Transit fares were increased. And so on. We would get the budget down to our 1 or 2 percent goal.

Then the police budget was added. If we were at 1 percent increase, the police budget would add another 1 percent (even though the police budget might actually be going up 3 to 5 percent or more). Half the Region’s budget increase was policing. Other than sending the police budget back to the police board to par down, Regional Council had no way of cutting or changing the police budget due to provincial law. We had to pay it from property taxes though.

The police are expensive. The WRPS 2020 budget, as passed, had an increase of 6,25% for a budget of almost 200 million dollars. This came out to a 1.38% property tax increase versus a Regional operating budget of 1%. Over 90% of the police budget goes to compensation ( paying people).

Defunding the police does not mean getting rid of the police. We will always have sex traffickers, assaults, child porn, fraud, murders, and theft. What defunding the police means is moving funds to what the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council has been advocating for over 25 years. Not well being, but social development. We need to stop pulling drowning people out of the water and go up stream to stop them falling in.

In an interview with NPR, Alex S. Vitale, the author of the 2017 book The End of Policing,(you can download the e-book for free) states:

One of the problems that we’re encountering here is this massive expansion in the scope of policing over the last 40 years or so. Policing is now happening in our schools. It’s happening in relation to the problems of homelessness, untreated mental illness, youth violence and some things that we historically associate police with.

This also includes illegal drugs and all the problems they bring with them. Fentanyl and meth are still a crisis. They did not go away when COVID-19 appeared. Poverty and unemployment have increased. Social problems are not the responsibility of the police but they end up the last resort in times of crisis.

A few years ago, a family member disappeared and we were afraid he was going to commit suicide. When he was found, the police had a civilian mental health team with them. The team defused the situation and the police did not have to go to emergency with our family member (who is fine now) . Police and EMS spend a lot of unnecessary costly time in Emerg waiting for their patient to be moved over to hospital staff.

Counselling, drug and addiction services, homeless shelters and social housing, immigrant and employment services, youth services, sexual assault counselling, mental health, Family and Children’s Services, the food bank, Community Justice Initiatives and more are always chronically short of funds. Recently many have had government funds cut by the province. In this time of pandemic, their charitable donations have dried up.

What if all the organizations in our community that practice crime prevention by social development got a 5 or 6 percent increase per year from our governments. Police would not be the organization of last resort for addiction, mental health, poverty and homelessness emergencies. We wouldn’t need so many police and those we would have could turn their attention to serious and complicated crimes. They would be properly defunded.

Here is a link to a petition and letter writing campaign spearheaded by the local Black Lives Matter. bit.ly/DefundThePoliceKW

You can also write to the WRPS police board here:

https://www.wrps.on.ca/en/about-us/police-services-board.aspx

I might point out that there is a vacancy on the police board!

Will More Police Officers Be Available at Busy Times?

A reader contacted me with some thoughts on the deployment of the 50 officers.  That while there will be an even amount of officers in each division all the time, there may not be extra officers on, say, the busy week-ends in Waterloo at the uptown bars.  I am posting  the Chief’s reply.

Reader: I was reading your blog and noticed that you wrote about a change to the way police are deployed that would mean more police on the beat during busier times.
That is not my understanding of the issue, as it would mean a change to the police contract regarding their shift schedules.

Chief Torrigan:The new deployment model will see a greater likelihood of officers being available in the areas where they are needed most. If that is the beat during peak times, so be it. At other times during the day, they will be required elsewhere. This is still dependent on having the right number of resources on the front line. We are not there yet, but with some additional resources we will be.

 We can also increase patrol presence with minor changes to the schedules, but that is only part of it. We can get there without changes to the schedule, but we will still require more resources.

  Jane: So I will be asking that question on the 23rd. Looks like a change in the police contract is needed to tweak the shift schedules and that is a difficult thing to manage. On the other hand, there will also be more officers available in the day and evening with the increase in officers overall, to do crime prevention and follow up. I should also note the following in the police report, Neighbourhood Policing, under next steps:

  • Studying how our shift schedule can be improved to better match the variations in calls for service demands while improving the work-life balance of our members

Also an addition I heard when the Chief spoke to Regional Council He noted that the Break and Enter unit was combined with the unit that deals with Drugs etc., Both units had 10 officiers and was reduced to 5 that do all the investigations, so he needs more staff.

Long Gun Registry

This Wednesday September 15 is the National Day in Support of the Long Gun Registry.

As a member of the Crime Prevention Council, I supported our motion in favour of the Gun Registry. I am bringing forward a motion to Regional Council on Wednesday to support the police and our Crime Prevention Council.

The police are a pretty conservative, law and order, bunch. If they support the gun registry, there has to be some pretty compelling reasons, and there are if you follow the links below to Chief Torrigian’s op ed and the Police website about the registry. 

Nurses support the registry. Emergency doctors support the registry.

 I’m going to take another tact, as the nuts and bolts reasons are clearly laid out in the links.

There are a lot of registries around that are used by governments and even various organizations to keep up standards. Restaurants need licenses, even hot dog stands do and Public Health has a list or registry of all the food establishments in the Region and inspectors check them for health violations. Even my dog is on a registry with the city. He has a dog license and they keep a list that includes dog gender, number of dogs in a home, whether spayed or neutered and if his rabies shot is up to date.

But the best analogy I think for having a gun registry is cars. Cars can be dangerous, they need skill to drive,yet no one is fussing that we shouldn’t register our cars and renew our driving license. On my ride-along with the police,the constable accessed that list on his computer when we stopped a car with a burned out bulb. Turned out the registered driver was a known felon and dangerous. Good info for the constable going up to his car window.

Why should guns be any different? They can be dangerous and they need skill to use. Our police need this tool.

Chief Matt Torigian  had a good op ed in the Record. http://www.therecord.com/article/772801

Here is a press release from the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council from Exchange Magazine http://www.exchangemagazine.com/morningpost/2010/week37/Tuesday/091410.htm and the Council’s position, http://www.preventingcrime.ca/documents/POSITION-LongGunRegistry.pdf

About a year or two ago, I did have some concerns about the cost of the registry but that has been cleaned up. I was very impressed by the following ten reasons to support the Registry by the police. Top ten myths http://www.truthsandmyths.ca/top-10-myths.html

.

Smart on Crime

We’ve all heard “Tough on Crime” and “Soft on Crime”, politicians crow about the first and throw the second at their opponents, particularly at the provincial and federal levels. There’s a better expression, “Smart on Crime”

The Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council wants you to tell them what “Smart on Crime” means. I wrote, “Smart on Crime means making prevention a priority.”  Here’s some other thoughts from other people who answered their small survey,

  • connecting what’s right with what works ~ Christine Bird, Alliance for Children & Youth of Waterloo Region
  • focus on prevention, not just criminal justice
  • fostering trust and belonging ~ Lisa Armstrong, Waterloo
  • evidence based public policy, not blind ideology
  • impact, not react ~ Sharon Charbonneau, Waterloo
  • challenging basic assumptions and proposing unconventionsl alternatives ~ Emily Schacht, Waterloo
  • providing community supports, not incarceration ~ Reg Weber, City of Cambridge
  • creating alternative opportunities
  • investing in children and youth ~ ZS Worotynec
  • building community ~ Trent, Kitchener
  • making decisions using quality evidence based research ~ Wayne Morris, Conestoga College
  • providing community supports, not mandatory minimum sentences ~ Reg Weber, City of Cambridge
  • knowing the difference between fact and fiction ~ ROOF
  • educating ourselves and our children ~ Carolyn Bickers, Region of Waterloo
  • getting to know your neighbours
  • You can add your thoughts here

    If you get Rogers Cable 20, The WRCPC is hosting a program about different aspects of crime. the last program, So What, Now What? is June 30th at 9 p.m.

    Police Horses!

    Here’s a picture of the new police horses. They even posed so my husband could take a photo. A smash hit at the Maple Syrup Festival.

    Police horses

    Police horses at the Maple Syrup Festival

    Ignite Waterloo: Great Topics in 5 minutes

    Ignite Waterloo holds presentations on any topic with 15 slides and 5 minutes. The last one was at the Children’s Museum on March 3. The next is July 7th. For more information go to www.ignitewaterloo.ca.

    If you are like me, and uber busy and can’t go, videos were taken of each presentation and they are a blast.

    Here a couple of them that are loosely to do with municipal affairs. They will lead you to the others, like the one about the Evolution of Sex!

    How to Change a Politician’s Mind.

    In a Roundabout Way

    Policing in 2009

    Nudging People Onto Bikes in the Age of the Automobile  Shows the Bike Couch! I rode that once in a commuter challenge!

    Regional Budget passes at 2.6 percent

    Well the budget didn’t go to as low a percent as I would have wished, but the Regional budget came in at 1.78 % and the police budget at .88%.  (Approx 38 dollars per YEAR on the tax bill) Remember, the police board not Regional council sets the police budget, we just pay the bill.

    Police halved their request and ended up with 10 new officers and 10 new civilians. 5 of those civilians will be prison guards for the courts and stations, and that will free up 5 officers to get back on the street. Not only will the new officers be working on crime prevention as they patrol but the Region is growing and no matter how low crime, we still have a lot and need more officers for growth.

    I won some and lost some on the budget.

    I wanted some of the 8 million in infrastructure funds that come from the federal government to be used to offset the increase for the system that calls out stops and has a gps for the buses and for solving the bus overcrowding problem on the mainline, number 9 Lakeshore and 12 and Iexpress. That didn’t fly and neither did my suggestion that the one million we took out of roads last year that was put back in (This is extra money that increases the roads budget each year, so it gets higher and higher) be taken out again this year.

    On the plus side, I asked the head of finance about the gaping provision where if someone leaves the region and a person is hired for less money, that the budget be adjusted to the new rate instead of staying at the old one (hope that is clear). Jim Wideman  made sure that extra money was taken out for this gap when he and the other committee heads got together with staff to find some more cuts.

    There were also rumblings that we should have no improvements but delegations and myself argued for the callouts of stops on the buses as required by the Human Rights tribunal and money to stop the overcrowding on buses. If we want to have a full LRT, we can’t have people stopping using the buses due to overcrowding. Also, all councillors agreed that daycare will be maintained at the present rate and we will see how the new all day jk and sk goes.

    Police Ridealong

    On Friday evening I went on a ridealong with the police, Division 3, City of Waterloo.

    At first the evening was very slow. The officer checked license plates of passing cars (did you know they can do that? I didn’t.) to see if any violations came up on his computer.

    Incoming calls come in by email and some chatter by radio, but most of the work is done by computer. We need to upgrade the technology to hands free!

    Small stuff — checking on a family where the mother had cut herself badly with a broken glass bowl. This is part of the three services response code. She had already been taken away by ambulance.  Part of this is to check for domestic violence (Not at that house or there would have already been a code by ambulance)

    Another, warning a guy who left without paying for his gas an hour earlier. Lived in a nice neighbourhood too. Said he would pay up in a half hour. (Yeah or be charged)

    Noise complaints now handled by by-law

    Checked on two boys walking along with full backpacks at 10 p.m.  They had just finished a paper route, probably Pennysaver.

    Two alarms both turned out to be false but officier said they can be nothing or nasty.

    Officers have a lot of paperwork

    Picked up a homeless woman sleeping by the Public Library. Out of the Cold had ended for the season the night before. Took her to Mary’s Place.  No drugs, no alcohol, evicted a couple of months ago and sleeping at Out of the Cold. A good candidate for the type of people that will be in the new SHOW apartments on Erb St.

     

    11:30 went out with the sargeant and things picked up. Lots of calls coming in over the computer.

    A girl kicking other residents and staff at a group home. Throwing extinquishers. Amazing how the police can calm people down but she still had to be watched. Grabbed something from the table and made to sit down again in a corner. Arrested. So much anger in such a young girl.

    Domestic — Several police there. Not straightforward, a complicated case but police very professional in taking everyone’s story.

     

    Police drive around alone in the car but back up always there for a serious call.

     

    95 percent of the calls seem to involve alcohol.

    Thank you Waterloo police for a very interesting night! You are so professional.