A’burg Police reach out to pulbic for input on business plan

By Joel Charron

The Amherstburg Police Service and the Amherstburg Police Services Board (APSB) wants to hear what the public has to say.

On Thursday evening a public information meeting was held at the Verdi Club to update the public on what the department’s direction is for the next three years.

“This gives the public a chance to give ideas and feedback on how we are doing as a force,” said APSB chair John Sutton.

According to Sutton another public input session will be held in April at the United Communities Credit Union Complex. He also said the final report  will be available by fall.

“I’m very proud of the Amherstburg Police Service,” said Chief Tim Berthiaume. “We are a first class police service here to serve the people of Amherstburg.”

Berthiaume noted that the Amherstburg police are the second most cost efficient police force in Ontario with populations between 15,000 and 49,999. Amherstburg’s cost per capita ($210) sits second to LaSalle ($188.) Berthiaume also mentioned that the 2011 police budget sits at $4.9 million with roughly $300,000 in revenue.

Chief Tim Berthiaume is urging the public to come forth and voice any and all concerns with the Amherstburg Police Service

Berthiaume boasted that over 50 per cent of the officers are native to Amherstburg, including himself.  There are 31 officers employed by Amherstburg police.

One of the department’s goals is to increase productivity and efficiency through technology. Deputy Chief Pat Palumbo said the purchase of new software for the in-car laptops expanded productivity while on the road. This will allow officers to run license plates and limits officers having to come back to the office to write reports.

According to a survey conducted by the Amherstburg police, 94 per cent of the responses said they felt “very safe” in Amherstburg and 95 per cent of the responses said the most important aspect of the service was “responding to calls.” They received 79 responses for the survey.

However, one area that needs improvement is foot patrols. Fifty-four percent of people in the survey said more foot patrols were needed. Thirty-three per cent rated the foot patrol performance as poor.

Palumbo said the department plans to “beef up” in areas such as River Canard and McGregor.

Palumbo said the police service is looking to expand community participation in efforts to prevent and solve crimes. This includes consulting with community leaders to identify community needs.

Amherstburg Police plan to continue to train their officers in all major criminal offense areas. They also plan to continue to establish “enhanced working partnerships” with other enforcement agencies such as OPP, RCMP and Customs. Partnerships with such agencies will increase the department’s ability to respond to major crimes.

Sutton said the police service has grown in recent years, stating the police service has partnered with community groups. Berthiaume’s establishment of a chief’s advisory board is proof of that.

“He wants to be more connected with the community,” noted Sutton.

Deputy Mayor Ron Sutherland, a former APSB chair and current president of the Ranta Marina’s Boaters Association said the boating community has faced fewer problems on the water due to an increase of a police presence. He also stated his support for the Amherstburg police’s role in having their own boat.

Berthiaume said the boat is not only for enforcement but also to counter-act the recent increase in human smuggling.

“It’s not just a problem for the RCMP, OPP or Customs on the water. It’s an Amherstburg problem. It’s important for us to be out there,” he said.

Berthiaume stated that resources are tied up for hours on human smuggling cases, especially if children are involved.

The number of traffic enforcements has dramatically increased with 466 tickets being handed out so far this year compared to 150 for the same period last year. Berthiaume said that residents red flagged traffic as a top concern.

Regardless of how many people attended the public information session, Berthiaume said the police want to hear from the public on how they are doing.

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