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OPP, police board seek public input on local policing priorities

'We do need their input in terms of what's occurring, what's happening ... our stats generate patrols and our focuses,' said Orillia OPP detachment commander
The Orillia Police Services Board and Orillia OPP are seeking public input for the OPP's 2023-2025 action plan.

The Orillia detachment of the OPP and Orillia Police Services Board are seeking the public’s input on setting local law enforcement priorities for the next three years.

The public input meeting for the Orillia detachment’s 2023-2025 action plan will take place June 15 at 6 p.m. in the council chamber at Orillia City Centre. 

The previous action plan, which was in effect from 2020 through 2022, saw local law enforcement focus on numerous priorities, some of which are as follows:

  • To reduce crime in the community, related to drug trafficking and manufacturing, property crime, and more;
  • To maintain a year-round focus on the “causal factors” of vehicle collisions;
  • To identify solutions for non-police related demands that impact OPP resources, such as the OPP’s Crisis Outreach and Support Team (COAST), which responded to 1,359 calls for service in 2022; 
  • To streamline collision reporting.

Orillia OPP detachment commander Coyer Yateman said the statistics largely guide OPP priorities, but he encouraged the public to provide their input and to report any crime to police.

“We do need their input in terms of what's occurring, what's happening,” he told OrilliaMatters. “I encourage the public to continue to call police for police-related matters because it does assist us with our statistics, and our stats generate patrols and our focuses.”

Following a special board meeting Tuesday, Yateman said the current plan has been successful across most areas. 

The report to the board noted initiatives like the COAST program, work carried out by the Community Mobilization Unit, had responded to 712 calls for service last year, and 279 hours of foot patrol carried out in the community.

Yateman also noted the Orillia OPP’s recent shift to a media relations schedule that allows media-trained officers to be available for inquiries at all hours of the day.

Despite the plan’s successes, various types of vehicle collisions have climbed in recent years, he noted.

Fatal motor vehicle collisions doubled from 5 to 10 over 2021 and 2022, with property damage collisions climbing from 1,488 to 1,710 over that time, as well. In 2022, the Orillia OPP saw a 7.9 per cent increase in collisions, from 1,854 to 2,000.

Yateman said enforcement, alone, cannot reduce the number of collisions on local roads.

“Reduction of crime and reduction of traffic collisions, especially fatalities, is top of our priority,” he said. “We're not going to do this alone, though. Through assistance … of media outlets, to assist in terms of educating the public that seatbelts save lives; speeding can kill, distracted driving – the areas of concern need to be reduced, and enforcement will not stop that. It needs to be a transition.”

At the meeting, board chair Ralph Cipolla questioned why Orillia OPP officers spent nearly 45,000 hours on administrative duties through 2022, which is “nearly as high” as the 48,000-plus hours officers spent on enforcing crime.

Yateman said the job requires a “significant amount” of administrative work, but he said a new pilot project that just rolled out at the detachment aims to reduce the administrative burden on front-line police officers.

“We now have … what we're calling detachment operations clerks at the detachment, (and) they're going to be working, providing seven-days-per-week coverage for a platoon, and they're assisting from anything from transcribing statements to other administrative documents that our officers have to do,” Yateman said.

“We're one of three detachments in Central Region that is getting this pilot, and only four detachments in the province that will have this pilot, so we're very lucky to have it, and I think you'll see the a reduction in the admin hours (as a) direct result of that.”

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Greg McGrath-Goudie

About the Author: Greg McGrath-Goudie

Greg has been with Village Media since 2021, where he has worked as an LJI reporter for CollingwoodToday, and now as a city hall/general assignment reporter for OrilliaMatters
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