Steve Owen

CWATS Celebration held in Amherstburg

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Children and adults alike are being urged to limit their screen time and get some exercise and one of the ways to do that was celebrated recently.

The County-Wide Active Transportation System (CWATS) held its fifth annual celebration in Amherstburg with students from Amherstburg Public School joining town and county representatives in walking through Toddy Jones Park and Fort Malden National Historic Site.

Jane Mustac, manager of transportation planning and development with the County of Essex, noted one of the partners is the Healthy Kids Community Challenge and that the CWATS Celebration falls in line with the current goal to “power off and play.”

The aim is to have people “rediscover bikes and the outdoors and limit their screen time.”

Const. Steve Owen of the Amherstburg Police Service conducts a safety demonstration with Amherstburg Public School students during the recent CWATS celebration in Toddy Jones Park.

There has been a lot to celebrate over the past five years, she believed. Some of the recent initiatives that have been undertaken in Amherstburg have included trails and bike paths on Meloche Road and Texas Road and paved shoulders on County Road 18 from Meloche Road to Howard Ave.

The County Road 18 will eventually see paved shoulders all the way to Walker Road, said Mustac.

“This is stop six,” Mustac added, as CWATS presentations were also held in Tecumseh, Kingsville, Leamington, Essex, LaSalle and Lakeshore.

Other partners included ERCA, Bike Windsor-Essex, Tourism Windsor-Essex Pelee Island, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, all local municipalities, Amherstburg police, Ambassador Bicycles and Communities in Motion.

“Everyone is here for the same mandate,” said Mustac.

People in attendance in Amherstburg also learned how to maintain their bicycles and how to safely ride them with healthy snacks being served at the walk’s conclusion.

Local youth take part in VIP demonstration day

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A number of Amherstburg schools headed to Windsor as part of “VIP Demonstration Day.”

The event, held recently at the Tilston Armouries, saw five of six Amherstburg schools attend. Grade 6 students, who are taking the Values Influences and Peers (VIP) program, to see Windsor police’s K9 unit, explosives demolition, emergency services tactical units, the outdoor firearms range, the vehicles police officers use and also got to watch as officers repelled from a tower on site.

Students from Anderdon Public School were one of those schools that participated in the VIP demonstration days.

“It gives kids the extra exposure to police and what the capabilities of the police are,” said Const. Steve Owen, community services officer with the Amherstburg Police Service.

Owen said Windsor was kind enough to open their doors to Amherstburg students and the local schools took advantage.

Windsor Police Const. Adam Young said it was the fifth annual event and said when such units are brought to the schools, they could show very little of their capabilities. At the Tilston Armouries, students can see their full abilities.

“It also allows us to engage with students at a personal level,” he said. “We’re here to serve them.”

All of the schools that took part in a recent VIP demonstration day at the Tilston Armouries gather for a group photo.

With the Windsor Police Service possibly serving in Amherstburg, pending approval by the Ontario Civilian Policing Commission (OCPC), Young said they wanted to include Amherstburg students this year as well. He said that exposes Amherstburg students to find out more about what Windsor police is capable of and to get to know more police officers so that it is a “seamless” transition.

Annual bike rodeo still busy, despite wet conditions

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Even though there was rain and damp conditions last Sunday, the annual bike rodeo still proved to be popular.

The annual event was presented at Families First Funeral Home and saw cyclists dodge the rain drops as well as the objects in the obstacle course. The event was presented with many partners, including the Amherstburg Police Service, the Amherstburg Community Based Policing Committee, Families First, Bike Windsor-Essex, Canadian Tire, Sobeys, the Optimist Club, the Rotary Club, Little Buddies Daycare, Bright Child Montessori, Meloche’s No Frills and Lakeside Produce.

Brett Severin assists Ryan Sprague through the obstacle course at Sunday’s bike rodeo

Const. Steve Owen, the community services officer with Amherstburg police, said they had 76 pre-register and were hoping to match the 130 children that came out last year. Just shy of 100 were reported to have come out for the 2018 event.

Bike helmets were given to people who didn’t have one, lights and bells were handed out, bicycles were checked then ridden through an obstacle course and BMX rider Eric Favot also was on hand for safety talks and demonstrations of what he can do.

“It’s to promote bike safety,” said Owen. “The last thing we want to do is see kids get hurt on their bikes when they are trying to have fun.”

Not only was the bike rodeo a way to learn, but they tried to ensure children and parents had a good time too, Owen added.

Heather Lenson from the Amherstburg Community Based Policing Committee (dark shirt) stands with Emma, Morgan and Joshua Hadfield during the June 10 bike rodeo at Families First Funeral Home.

The Amherstburg Fire Department brought their ladder truck to the event and there was face painting and inflatable rides on hand as well. There were also handouts given to people with bicycle safety tips.

“The last few years, it has grown quite a bit,” Owen said of the bike rodeo.

“I think it’s great,” added Heather Digou, who was with her son Ryan Sprague at the event. “It shows them bicycle safety. They are giving kids all kinds of entertainment. I think it’s awesome.”

BMX rider Eric Favot performs a trick during the bicycle rodeo June 10.

“Families First is proud to work with our partners in community to bring the annual bike rodeo to Amherstburg. It is a great way to have fun and a hands-on approach that teaches children the rules of the road to stay safe on their bikes,” says Brian Parent, president of Families First. “Cycling is a great way for kids to get to school, around town and stay active. Cyclists of all ages will have the opportunity to learn how to be safer by being visible to drivers.”

Amherstburg Police Service recognizes officers, civilians… and a dog

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Amherstburg Police Service’s annual awards night honoured those with two legs as well as those with four last Tuesday night.

The awards dinner, held at Riccardo’s Italian Restaurant, saw four officers, two civilians, an organization and – for the first time ever – a dog recognized as part of the night.

A Citizen Recognition Award went to Macie, a golden retriever owned by the Morden family. Macie went outside through her doggie door the morning of Aug. 19 and noticed something strange. She began barking loud enough so her owners would check what was going on.

The winners of awards at the Amherstburg Police Service awards dinner gather for a group photo. From left: Chief Tim Berthiaume (with Grant Morden and Macie), Jodi Ouellette and Joanna Conrad from the Essex County Diversion Program, town fleet mechanic Randy Riediger, Pauline Gemmell, Sr. Const. Margaret O’Brien and Sgt. Mike Cox. Absent are Sgt. Don Brown (25-year service award) and Sr. Const. Sean Gazdig (10-year service award).

“When Julie Morden looked out the window, she noticed that her vehicle door was open,” said Const. Steve Owen, the community services officer and master of ceremonies for the award presentations. “As a result, police were contacted and within 15 minutes a male was arrested in the area with several stolen items located on him that had been taken from numerous vehicles in the area.”

Also honoured with a Citizen Recognition Award was Pauline Gemmell, who served on the Amherstburg Police Services Board (APSB).

The Community Partnership Award went to the Essex County Diversion Program. Youth justice case manager Jodi Ouellette (left) and executive director Joanna Conrad (right) accept the award from Chief Tim Berthiaume.

“During this time, the service has maintained a competitive budget while improving the look of our police vehicles and implementing new equipment such as less lethal shotguns, carbine rifles, and body cameras. The town was also one of the safest town’s in Canada during her tenure,” said Owen.

Chief Tim Berthiaume presents a Citizen Recognition Award to Pauline Gemmell.

The Essex County Diversion Program was honoured with the Community Partnership Award.

“The Essex County Diversion Program seeks to promote and foster a healthy community by providing timely and effective intervention with at-risk youth. For those who are not familiar with extrajudicial measures, it is a program that allows youth to avoid going to court and receiving a sentence, by taking responsibility for their actions and making amends for the wrongs that they have done, through methods such as rehabilitation, community service, paying for damages, and apologizing to those they have affected,” Owen stated. “They also offer outreach programs which act as a preventative strategy to educate youth on a variety of topics such as bullying, sexting, drugs abuse, and video game addictions to name a few. Youth Diversion is a strong partner of the Amherstburg Police service and the community of Amherstburg.”

Sr. Const. Margaret O’Brien receives a 25-year service award from Chief Tim Berthiaume.

Officers receiving long-service awards included Sr. Const. Sean Gazdig, who was recognized for ten years of service. Gazdig was unable to attend the dinner.

Gazdig began his policing career in 2005 with the London Police Service and was later hired in 2007 by the Amherstburg Police Service. He began working in general patrol and is now in the traffic enforcement unit. He is a trained police motorcycle operator and he acts as a coach officer to newly hired constables.

“Each year Sean participates as an instructor for annual firearms training for the officers of both the Amherstburg and Windsor police,” Owen added.

Two officers were recognized with 25-year service awards.

Chief Tim Berthiaume presents Sgt. Mike Cox (left) with a 30-year service award.

Sr. Const. Margaret O’Brien began her policing career with the Amherstburg Police Service in 1992. She is currently a detective in the criminal investigations division.

“Maggie has received training in interviewing and interrogation, search warrant writing, asset forfeiture, and is a certified property and evidence specialist to name a few of the assets she brings to the service,” Owen pointed out.

Sgt. Don Brown, who was also unable to attend the dinner, also began with the Amherstburg Police Service in 1992. His background includes being a patrol constable, marine operator, patrol sergeant and is now the detective sergeant in the criminal investigations division.

Randy Riediger (left) receives a Chief’s Award of Excellence from Chief Tim Berthiaume.

“Don has been trained in many areas including investigating offences against children, investigative interviewing and has been a trained breath technician,” said Owen.

Receiving a 30-year service award was Sgt. Mike Cox, who began his policing career in Amherstburg in 1987.

“Mike Cox was a community police officer before there was community policing. Mike has been a fixture with our local community living organization and with the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics,” said Owen. “In 2004, Mike co-founded the Amherstburg Heroes, a basketball league for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Despite not seeking recognition, Mike has been recognized for his work by the community several times. Mike has received the Exemplary Service Medal, the Chief’s Award of Excellence, the Windsor Parade Corporations 911 Community Service Award, the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, and the CanDo 150 Award of Distinction.”

Cox has been trained as a breath technician and coach officer to name a few of his specialties, Owen added. He has served in many roles including constable, patrol sergeant, operations sergeant, and has previously co-ordinated our auxiliary program.

Chief Tim Berthiaume recognizes Macie, a golden retriever, with a Canine Recognition Award. Holding Macie is one of her owners, Grant Morden.

The Chief’s Award of Excellence is described as “the highest award of the Amherstburg Police Service.” It is awarded to an individual, organization or institution that has made a significant contribution to the Amherstburg Police Service or the community.

Randy Riediger, a fleet mechanic with the town since 2004, was this year’s recipient and was described as “one of the hardest workers the town of Amherstburg has known.”

Owen stated “the doors at his garage are always cycling vehicles in and out and keeping our town vehicles and notably our police vehicles on the road. His relentless work ethic has allowed our police vehicles to remain in-house for service and allowed our operating budget to remain competitive and has saved money for the taxpayers.”

Riediger’s efforts assist the Amherstburg Police Service in doing its job, Owen added.

“When our residents call police for assistance and we show up, they just see the police car pull up and the police officer get out. What they don’t see are the people like Randy who keep our service operating effectively and efficiently,” said Owen.

Chief Tim Berthiaume said the awards night was created to honour officers, residents and partners of the police service.

“Taking the time to recognize their contributions brings us together and allows us to grow together,” said Berthiaume. “Our success is dependent on all of us coming together in a positive way.”

Berthiaume thanked town staff for their roles in assisting the Amherstburg Police Service and managing its $6 million budget. Berthiaume also thanked the Amherstburg Fire Department, but joked “thanks for making the Amherstburg Police Service look so good.”

Berthiaume said working together assists everyone.

“The benefit of all this hard work is the community, our community,” the chief added.

Amherstburg police launch blitz focusing on accessible parking spots

By Jolene Perron

 

The Amherstburg Police Service launched a blitz Monday morning focusing on accessible parking spaces within the town and the blitz will last all week.

“We were contacted by the accessibility committee through the town hall in regards to an ongoing issue with people parking in handicap spaces without having the permits,” explained Const. Steve Owen.   “The police service did a one-week blitz last year, we focused on making sure we monitored those people using the spaces and issued bylaw tickets to them if they didn’t have the correct pass. This year we are doing the second annual blitz.”

Owen said officers will be out all week, paying close attention and writing tickets. The current fine for parking in an accessible parking space without a permit is $300.

“To me, they’re there for a reason – for the people who need them. For someone who doesn’t need it to be using that spot, (it) just creates an inconvenience for everybody and everyone gets frustrated when they see that,” explained Owen.

Accessibility committee chair Bill Whittall said they are always out and about in the community looking for ways to make things easier for those with disabilities. As he also has a disability, when he sees someone go into a spot without a permit or a sticker, he knows maybe someone else is cruising around needing that space.

 

Amherstburg Police Services Constable Steve Owen (left) stands with accessibility committee member Marie Allen, chair Bill Whittall, and member Angela Kelly inside of an accessible parking space outside of town hall to kick off their weeklong blitz, which began Monday.

Accessibility committee Angela Kelly has a daughter who is in a power wheelchair. She said when she purchased an accessible van, she specifically requested one that would allow her to come out of the back of the vehicle because she has always had issues with people parking too close to the side of her car and she had a difficult time getting her daughter in and out of the van.

Kelly said education is key.

“The other issue is, I think there are people who maybe have accessible parking permits but are maybe unaware of how they should be using them,” explained Kelly. “A lot of times I will notice people have the parking permits in the front of their vehicles but the person who it’s likely assigned to remains within the car. I often have to, and I’m sure I’m not the only one, move to another location because all of the areas are taken. There are also people who use a relative’s permit and run into the store just because it’s close and quick and they’re only going to be a few minutes so now they are taking up that space that someone who physically needs it is unable to use it.”

The goal of this blitz, Owen said, is to make the public aware that this is an issue, not just to issue tickets to those parked illegally in accessible spots. He added that he wants to make sure the public understands those spots are there for a reason.