Amherstburg Police Service

Opioid abuse takes centre stage at “Not My Kid” community forum



By Ron Giofu


The Amherstburg Police Service hosted a free community forum on opioids and adolescents with a crowd of roughly 100 turning out to gather information.

The “Not My Kid” forum was held Nov. 9 at the Libro Centre with community agencies and businesses on hand to share information and experiences.

Matt Kelly, a peer counselor at the Southshore Health Centre in Leamington, outlined his personal experiences and battles with addiction. The 34-year-old said he has spent roughly 17 years battling addiction, though he pointed out he grew up in a typical family.

Kelly said his youth was largely spent not ever feeling like he truly fit in anywhere, and described himself as “an egotist maniac with an inferiority complex.” That led to behavioral issues with his parents and peers to the point where “my parents were at a loss” and sent him to a military school.

In his second year in military school, Kelly said he suffered from abuse from an older peer and after reporting it, the solution was simply to separate the two. That planted seeds of mistrust and only compounded Kelly’s issues.

After returning to a public school, he started hanging around with those who drank and smoked and started a drug habit, including stealing from his family to support that habit. At age 16, he tried cocaine and started putting anything in his body “that could take me away from myself.”

Kelly said he was soon kicked out of his house and had difficulty staying clean despite going to treatment centres. He would also go to jail numerous times during those years.

Matt Kelly addresses the audience at the recent opioid forum in Amherstburg.

In his late teens, he fathered three children, with those children eventually being assigned to live at his parents’ home and he was not allowed on the property to see them. Kelly said he moved around to try and get a fresh start but would soon find people that helped him support his habits. He recalled living in “countless homeless shelters” and eating donuts out of dumpsters.

“I wasn’t doing the work to keep myself clean,” he said. “My life had become completely unmanageable and that’s putting it lightly.”

Kelly’s addiction problems increased as did his scrapes with the law. He would wake up in hospitals “scared of everything” and not remember being admitted. After a suicide attempt in the Southwest Detention Centre in 2015, Kelly said something finally clicked and he realized he wanted to live. He finally got the help he needed and finally bonds with people, including his children of whom he now has four.

“I’ve forgiven myself, I’ve worked out the damage I’ve done to my loved ones also,” he said. “Today, I can say that I’m OK with myself.”

Kelly said there is hope and encouraged kids to talk to others if they have issues.

“The biggest message I can give to kids is to reach out. There is help out there. Don’t wait too long. Don’t be too late,” he said.

Constables Charles Campbell and Gary Williams from Windsor police’s drug and gun squad spoke to the crowd about their experiences with Williams noting that he used to have an “us versus them” attitude about drug users. He said if luck were to swing in a different direction, maybe others would be faced with the same problems.

Amanda Allen from Crime Stoppers goes over what they do as part of the “Not My Kid” opioid open forum.

Campbell said they try and recruit informants to get drugs off the street. Common drugs found in Windsor are Percocets, Dilaudid,, Xanax, morphine and fentanyl with the drugs coming in various forms.

Williams acknowledged that people will get ahead of them. Mixing opioids with other drugs is becoming more common as it increases potency.

Amanda Allen, police co-ordinator with Crime Stoppers Windsor-Essex County, said their program works and keeps people anonymous. She said they have seen people call on their family members just so their family member can get help.

“Sometimes, family members are at wit’s end,” said Allen.

Allen urged people to take drugs back to their local pharmacy so that they stay off the street, a message emphasized by Josie Piruzza, owner of the Shoppers Drug Mart franchise in Amherstburg.

“I still accept them back just to get them off the streets,” said Piruzza.

Piruzza urged people to lock their drugs up and know how much they have.

Mental health nurse Belinda Leaman offered numerous tips for parents and guardians, including educating themselves, being aware of their child’s friends, keeping and monitoring their medications, and reinforcing positive behaviours.

Signs of opioid intoxication include constricted pupils, little or no reaction to light, droopy eyelids, sluggish responses and appearing drowsy or sleepy. A teen may be at risk if there is a loss of interest in appearance and activities, neglecting responsibilities, if there is cash or valuables missing from the home, changes in friends, poor judgment, secretive behaviour, lying, irregular schedule, excessive sleeping, an increase in snoring, constipation and/or sudden mood changes.

Sharmaine Tanario-Battagello, from Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital’s withdrawal management program, encouraged parents and guardians by saying they don’t have to take everything onto themselves and that there are numerous agencies out there to help.

“You have to educate yourself on what you’re up against,” she said.

Tanario-Battagello said people can go to professionals to get help, but noted it has to be the right help for the right person.

“It’s a community thing. It’s a family thing,” she said of addiction. “Don’t be ashamed. Just get the help you need the way you need it.”

Secret Santa Benefit Dinner popular again at Mealtime Express



By Ron Giofu


Mealtime Express once again gave people a chance to have a chicken dinner and help local children at the same time.

The ninth Secret Santa Benefit Dinner was held Sunday evening at the Sandwich St. S. restaurant with the public responding favourably again in 2017. The final total of what was raised amounted to $9,270.50.

“We’ve pretty much sold all the tickets,” said Norm Mickle, who owns the restaurant with wife Janet.

Mickle said they have had businesses come forwarded with a wide variety of raffle prizes, adding Mealtime Express is very grateful.

“Everyone is volunteering their time,” he said. “We’ve donated the restaurant and the food and all of the proceeds go to local kids.”

The Secret Santa Benefit Dinner was held Sunday night at Mealtime Express. Staff volunteered their time to be there and were joined by Santa & Mrs. Claus. It is a partnership between Mealtime Express, the Amherstburg Police Service and ACS.

Once again this year, Mealtime Express teamed with Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) and the Amherstburg Police Service on the toy drive aspect of the Secret Santa program. ACS helps buy and distribute the goods with Amherstburg police also assisting with a toy drive as well. Mickle said they are happy with the partnership.

The Secret Santa program has been a big success in Amherstburg in its first eight years, he added.

“We’ve helped 200 families and over 500 kids over the first eight years,” said Mickle. “Local kids have received over 3,000 gifts right off of their Christmas lists. It’s actually gifts the kids want for Christmas.”

Mickle called the program “a real community affair” and now team with ACS and Amherstburg police after handling it themselves the first number of years.

“Everyone has their role. It’s perfect,” said ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo. “It’s a great partnership between the three of us. It only helps us get bigger and reach more families.”

Const. Nathan Harris, who helps organize the Amherstburg police toy drive with the aid of wife Ashleigh, said it is in its fourth year with the first three having gone well. Harris said the community seems to have rallied behind the toy drive and they have been able to help a good number of families in Amherstburg.

“We’re hoping to be as successful, if not more, this year and to continue to spread Christmas cheer,” added Harris.

Amherstburg police investigating mischief complaints


Amherstburg police report there was a tire slashed on a vehicle parked in the 200 block of George St. It was reported sometime overnight on Nov. 10-11.

  • Amherstburg police state that sometime before midnight last Wednesday, the rear window of a vehicle parked at Royal Canadian Legion Br. 157 was smashed out.

Anyone with information on either of these incidents is asked to contact the Amherstburg Police Service at 519-736-3622 or Crime Stoppers at 519-258-TIPS (8477).

Stats   There were 178 total calls for service last week with 61 traffic-related charges laid.


—All information courtesy of the Amherstburg Police Service

Amherstburg police looking for suspect(s) after two B&E’s



The Amherstburg Police Service is stating that two Amherstburg businesses were broken into in the downtown core last Thursday and are looking for at least one, if not more, suspects.

At approximately 10:30 p.m., police say a male is captured on several surveillance systems on Richmond St. near Dalhousie St. walking east on Dalhousie St. and lingering in the area. At 10:45 p.m., the male allegedly entered the Musicland store at 59 Richmond St. by kicking in the front door. According to police, the male left the business five minutes later. A total of approximately $500 in cash was taken from the business.

Amherstburg police say the same male then proceeded back towards Dalhousie St.

At 11:55 p.m., a male, police state that possibly the same individual or someone acting with the same individual, allegedly forced his way through the front door at the Artisan Grill at 269 Dalhousie St., around the corner from Musicland.

A suspect believed to be connected to at least one of the B&E’s in the downtown core of Amherstburg last Thursday night is pictured on surveillance camera footage. (Photo courtesy of the Amherstburg Police Service)

The male in this incident was again captured on surveillance. Amherstburg police say he entered the restaurant but did not take anything once inside.

The male is then seen getting into an older model GMC pick-up, with trailer mirrors, a metal rack behind the cab and a tool box in the bed. A second individual was waiting inside the pick-up.

Police are looking to identify the individual in the photos as well as the GMC truck.

If anyone may have information relevant to the investigation, you are encouraged to contact police at 519-736-3622, or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 519-258-8477 (TIPS) or online at


Amherstburg Police Service hosting open forum on opioids



By Ron Giofu


The Amherstburg Police Service is hosting an open forum this Thursday to help spread awareness and advice regarding opioids.

The free community forum, entitled “Not My Kid”, runs Nov. 9 at the Libro Centre from 6-8 p.m. Const. Kim Rathbone said their vision is to have information available in the foyer of the Libro Centre featuring youth diversion, New Beginnings, the Teen Health Centre, the Canadian Mental Health Association among others.

“These places are typically in Windsor but they are going to be at your fingertips,” said Rathbone.

Once the program starts, Rathbone said they will have a real life story from someone who battled addiction and received treatment. The Windsor police drugs and guns unit will also be on hand to make a presentation.

“They are going to talk to parents about typical signs to look for in your child and what to look for in your child’s room,” she said.

Rathbone added that local Shoppers Drug Mart owner Josie Piruzza is scheduled to speak on keeping prescription drugs safe and proper disposal of drugs. There will be school nurses from around Windsor-Essex County on hand, Rathbone continued, with Sharmaine Tanario-Battagello from Withdrawal Management also scheduled to speak.

Tanario-Battagello has 27 years of program development and clinical experience and holds a master’s degree in organizational psychology and clinical social work. She has worked in the fields of mental health and addictions throughout her career and has been part of the medical systems in both Canada and the United States.

Crime Stoppers Windsor-Essex County is also scheduled to attend with free naloxone training also being provided. Naloxone is used on someone who has overdosed and buys time for the person to be treated by medical professionals.

Rathbone pointed out that there have already been open forums on opioids in Kingsville and LaSalle and organizers have learned from those events on what information people are seeking. Amherstburg police hope to prevent opioid addiction and limit it from becoming a major issue locally.

“The whole point of this is to get ahead of it,” said Rathbone. “It’s not a giant issue in Amherstburg. There’s no epidemic here.”

Another open forum is scheduled to be in Windsor in early 2018, she added.

The “Not My Kid” community forum will run from 6-8 p.m. The Libro Centre is located at 3295 Meloche Road in Amherstburg.

For more information, contact Rathbone at 519-736-8559.