Residents should call police if they want a response to crimes

People in Erin are no more law abiding than anywhere else – but it seems residents are loathe to complain about crimes in that town.

That was the message Erin Mayor Lou Maieron received when he noted at county council on March 29 that Erin’s calls for police service seem to him to be lower than they should be.

Maieron wondered if perhaps Erin residents are more law abiding than in other places in Wellington County.

Police Services Board chairman Lynda White said with a grin, “Absolutely.”

Maieron said he compared the calls for police service from municipalities with similar populations to Erin’s and found the police had many more calls from his town.

The number of calls per municipality are:

– Centre Wellington (population 29,000) and 5,996 calls for service;

– Erin (11,830) and 2,156 calls;

– Puslinch (7,298 population) and 2,157 calls;

– Guelph-Eramosa (12,066), and 3,615;

– Wellington North (11,015), 3,169;

– Mapleton (9,300), 1,320 calls; and

– Minto (8,860), 2,384 calls.

The provincial average is 2,392.

Maieron noted he had asked the same question the previous year. He said Erin’s population is similar to that of Puslinch or Guelph-Eramosa, but in some places calls for services range from 50 to 70 per cent higher than in Erin.

“Is it we’re not calling – or not getting crime,” Maieron wondered. “I’m told we’re getting the crime.”

He said he was raising the issue because he wants to work to “make things better.”

White said she had the same response as she did last year when Maieron asked about calls for police service.

“Mostly, it’s because they’re not being reported. [Inspector] Scott Smith said if they are reported, they will be followed up,” White told Maieron.

Staff Sergeant Jack Hunjan was at county council in Smith’s absence, and told council “I encourage Erin folks to call. We     can only record calls we get.”

Maieron noted he has helped get a safe communities (formerly community oriented policing) committee started in the town.

“I will do my best to tell people if they’re suffering crime to report it,” he said.

Crime and consequences

Councillor Ken Chapman asked about students who get charged for possession of drugs in local schools.

He said he knows of youths being charged, but asked, “What is the consequence? Basically, it was very minor.”

Chapman said, “It’s not a police problem. It’s a major problem for the system.”

White disagreed with Chapman’s assessment.

“There are consequences … that we don’t hear,” she said, adding that often social services needs to become involved.

Most students charged with drugs are still considered youths and their names cannot be released by police, nor can any punishment they receive from the courts be published.

But Chapman disagreed with that assessment.

He said, “My wife worked at Erin District High School for 22 years and she saw no consequences.”

Hunjan said police will “try to make sure kids are held accountable. I will be looking into that myself.”