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OPP inspector, council discuss recent vandalism

by Olivia Rutt

ERIN - Wellington County OPP detachment commander Inspector Scott Lawson attended Erin council on Sept. 5 to speak about recent vandalism and Erin-specific policing.

During his presentation, Lawson said Erin averages around 2,100 annual calls for service, which increased in 2016 to 2,258 calls. He said this is expected to increase by about 47 per cent for 2017, which reflects efforts encouraging community members to report crime.

While there was an overall reduction in property crime from 2015 to 2016, Lawson noted calls relating to mischief have increased so far this year.

In 2015, there were 55 mischief occurrences, which decreased to 42 in 2016. In 2017 to date, there have been 54 occurrences.

“We’ve already met the annual number that we’ve seen over the last couple of years due to some of the increases that we’re seeing and some of the mischief that is occurring in the community,” he said.

Lawson added that to the end of July, OPP officers have spent over 8,000 hours in the town this year, working reactively and proactively.

“I think it’s important the mayor and council are aware of the significant resources that are committed to the Town of Erin and the public safety of the community,” he said.

Lawson said social media can be both a help and a hindrance to a police investigation and he encourages people to phone police before posting to social media.

“We don’t police in the social media realm ... we deal with concrete evidence to bring before a court,” he said. “Given some of the stuff we see on Facebook in the Town of Erin, I think it’s important to understand that we are all working together and we need the community to help us in that regard.”

Lawson said the community needs to report crimes.

“We don’t police on Facebook,” he said. He added that thanks to the public’s help, the OPP was able to solve the Erin Public School mischief, which caused $15,000 damage to the school.

He encouraged people to volunteer for an Erin policing committee.   

Councillor John Brennan asked Lawson to comment on airing frustrations on social media.

“We see all the time (people saying) ‘we know who it is and why can’t we convict these people.’ Can you say a few words about the difference between knowing who it is and supporting charges in a courtroom?” he asked.  

Lawson said it is better to contact police about it.

“When there was a ground swell of ‘there’s vandalism happening in the community,’ which I’ve said all along is really not that different than what’s happening in most municipalities, it appeared that there was all these things happening and the police didn’t even know most of what was happening,” he said.

“We didn’t find out for four or five days ... that a lot of these other very nuisance, but very criminal acts, were happening. But yet on social media realm, it had taken off into another stratosphere.”

Councillor Matt Sammut noted Erin is in a tough spot with the recent vandalism and suspicious fires that have been in the area.

“In a perfect word, we would see officers driving all over the place ... your presence will scare off, especially some of the young people, but I’m a realist that know there’s only so much resources,” he said.

Sammut asked if a police officer will sit on the committee to steer it to areas it will have an impact.

“We see so much benefit from the community being involved,” said Lawson, citing both the Minto and Puslinch policing committees as examples that include OPP officials.

September 8, 2017


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