Haweater incidents down from 2012, OPP aims to top 2015 stats

LITTLE CURRENT—This is Community Services Officer Constable Steve Hart’s first Haweater Weekend on the job in his new role with the Manitoulin Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police, but the pre-long weekend message is the same—the OPP will be taking a zero tolerance approach to all things under the law this weekend.

Constable Hart urged drivers to be aware that RIDE checks will be conducted all weekend long and at varying times of the day and that drinking and drugged driving is never okay and officers will be out in full force, keeping Manitoulin roads safe.

As well as officers in patrol cars, members of the OPP will be keeping Island waterways safe through the marine unit while other officers will be travelling through our streets and parks on foot, bicycle and on ATV.

On the topic of ATVs, The Expositor questioned the OPP’s practice last year of having ATVs travel through pedestrian thoroughfares and through family friendly events. This caused a great deal of upset last year, and was noted in the pages of this newspaper and its online resources by many festivalgoers. Constable Hart explained that the OPP had met with municipal officials and the Little Current Lions Club over the course of the year and said that a change in the use of ATVs will be dictated ahead of time. “The when and where will be different,” he said.

Constable Hart explained that the operational requirements of the OPP fluctuate based on the statistics from the last five years. He noted that 2009 and 2011 were bad years with many calls, but from 2012 to 2015 there were no impaired drivers, nor were there any criminal incidents at any of the venues. An increase in police presence has been seen since 2012 due to the increase of incidents in 2009 and 2011.

“The method of policing has also changed,” Constable Hart continued. “Officers are encouraged to get out and engage with the public, making themselves more accessible at the same time.”

“Just visibility has an affect on discouraging public disorder,” he added.

In 2009, there were 107 incidents, in 2011, 177 incidents and by 2015, 92 incidents. In 2011 police laid 109 Provincial Offences Acts charges and last year, that number was down to 47.

“Those calls are coming down because of the actions we’ve taken,” the constable said, “and thanks to the zero tolerance approach taken.”

“It would be nice to see zero offences, but we’ll keep working on that,” Constable Hart said.