Manitoulin OPP to tackle ‘big 3’ policing concerns

by Stacey Lavallie

MANITOULIN—As one of his first tasks as Staff Sergeant of the four Manitoulin Island Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) detachments, Kevin Webb went from community to community, asking for residents and businesses to tell him their top concerns.

Later on this month, he will be speaking about the three main concerns expressed to the OPP detachments and how the police service is adjusting its strategies to deal with them.

According to the staff sergeant, the three main concerns of Island residents are police visibility on lakes and trails, speeding on the highways in communities and minor theft and mischief.

“We currently have six marine-trained officers,” Staff Sergeant Webb noted. “One will be full time in the summer, and the others will have special assignments.”

The Island’s OPP marine unit also recently “traded up” one of its boats, with the new, bigger and improved unit set to arrive shortly.

“We’ll be patrolling inland lakes as well as Lake Huron,” he noted. “We’ll be looking for liquor infractions, impaired boaters, aggressive boaters and personal floatation devices (PFDs).”

To help combat speeding issues, the Manitoulin detachments (Mindemoya, Manitowaning, Little Current and Gore Bay) have secured new equipment.

“We’ve acquired three new radar units,” the staff sergeant said. “We’ll have a speed sign put in place to gauge where we need to put our officers.”

The speed sign notes the time and speed of the vehicles passing it, providing officers looking over the log a way to determine if speeding is a problem and at what time the problem is the worst.

“We will also be working on the ‘Big Four’,” he said. “Seatbelts, impaired driving, distracted driving and aggressive driving. These have been identified by the province as the major cause of collisions.”

The OPP will also be embarking on a ‘lock it or lose it’ campaign to educate and encourage local drivers to lock their vehicles when they aren’t inside. As well, an increase in local foot patrols is intended to deter mischief.

“Through higher visibility and education, we hope to address this issue,” he explained.

Though drugs and drug-related violence didn’t make the top three, Staff Sergeant Webb said the police don’t intend to let up on their efforts to combat the problems.

“We have a dedicated joint-forces group that attacks the issue,” he noted, explaining that the OPP partners with the Wikwemikong Tribal Police, the UCCM Anishnabe Police and the Espanola Police Service to combat the drug trade.

“We also work in conjunction with the Greater Sudbury Police Service and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP),” he said.