MANITOULIN—With more vandalism having taken place in Central Manitoulin recently and with additional concerns over potentially more serious crimes, the community is on edge, says a member of the Manitoulin Community Police Advisory Committee (CPAC).
“In Mindemoya right now, the community is on edge,” Steve Shaffer, a Central Manitoulin municipal councillor and a member of CPAC stated at a recent meeting. “We just had a break-in at the post office building, with the mailboxes being vandalized and opened and mail taken. And because of this we are seeing a lot of things being posted on social media, that big city problems have arrived here. And there has been talk about police presence and staffing levels, especially after we lost the OPP detachment here in Mindemoya.”
Mr. Shaffer noted as well the Mindemoya area recently saw a rash of ice hut break-ins and cars vandalized and broken into. “I know some of these things can be cyclical,” he said, noting that the municipality has a neighbouring community that has seen an increase in drug addiction numbers, and serious violent incidents, including a recent shooting. (These incidents have largely involved perpetrators from southern Ontario.) He noted there are concerns that these type of offences could spill over into our community (Mindemoya).”
“I’m just wondering about police staffing levels, and what the formula is for increasing staffing levels?” asked Mr. Shaffer. “I understand the local municipalities didn’t pay the costs for some of our OPP officers who were dispatched to Ottawa to help out with controls of the truck convoy, but do these type of things pull away resources that are usually available to us locally? I guess I’m voicing concerns as to whether the police staffing levels are adequate.”
Manitoulin OPP detachment commander Inspector Megan Moriarity told the meeting, “The OPP is constantly reviewing staff levels and needs on a multi-year average. Although we had officers in Ottawa to help out in maintaining controls, we maintained our regular staffing levels, through backfilling with overtime to ensure local communities were not affected.” She noted as well, “there will be no additional costs to municipalities for that additional time.”
“As for ongoing staffing levels overall through the OPP, compared to where they have been, they have not been modified for a number of years and this is under review,” said Inspector Moriarity.
“It strikes home when a federal institute (post office) is broken into,” said Mr. Shaffer, a retired Mindemoya postmaster.
“Absolutely, I can understand that,” said Inspector Moriarity.
“Our municipality has put out the message to community members, ‘that if you see it, report it’ to the police,”
Committee member Bryan Barker noted, “Steve brought up an interesting point. The recent census statistics released show significant increases in population on Manitoulin Island, as compared to a good portion of the rest of Northeastern Ontario. Is this taken into consideration by the OPP?”
“A lot goes along with that,” said Inspector Moriarity. “There are some changes taking place and people are moving out of cities to move to rural areas. The OPP is aware of this. It’s being observed and noticed. I expect some things and changes to come based on that type of information.”
Inspector Moriarity told The Expositor after the meeting, “we had quite a few officers that went to Ottawa to help out. The province made the call out for detachments to help out (with the occupation). We are so proud of all our members through all of this, those who stepped up to help provide support in Ottawa and those who worked additional hours to make sure staffing levels were maintained.”