Scott Smith named new county OPP inspector

The man who will lead the county police service for the next several years already has a strong familiarity with Welling­ton County.

Scott Smith was named recently as the replacement for Inspector Steve Walsh, who re­tired ear­lier this year. Smith has already spent over three years in the county as staff sergeant at OPP headquarters in Palmer­ston.

Prior to that, Smith was in Wawa, and said he spent over 12 years “up north.” He added, “I went up there by choice.”

Smith was born in Pem­broke and had his early school­ing there. He graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo with a Bachelor’s de­gree in psychology.

From there, he became a police officer, joining the Re­gion of Peel. After four years, he left to join the OPP in Picton before moving to northern Ontario. He has been a police officer for 25 years.

Smith said Walsh was a big help to him in his career.

“Steve was a great mentor,” he said.

At 49, Smith said his goals as the new chief for Wellington County will continue much as Walsh had things running.

“The overriding theme is going to be keeping crime out of our county,” Smith said.

One area where the Well­ington OPP has stood out is its surveys of the community, call­ed Policing for Results. People are randomly selected and ask­ed what their major concerns are, and the OPP sets its pol­icing agenda accordingly.

But, as Smith noted, “The is­sues remain the same.”

He said people are con­cern­ed with traffic, “most notably drinking and driving, which we will continue to pursue aggres­sively.”

He said people are also concerned about property crime, which he called “quite a nuisance to the public.”

And, he said, he is con­cerned with mental health is­sues in the community that are growing. In its latest reports to all the local municipalities, police noted mental health issues are coming to the forefront for the OPP.

“We need to work with our partners to address these issues – because the police are the first ones called,” Smith said, adding the OPP have affi­liations with several mental health groups.

As for drugs, he said in some ways those are mental health issues. He said some experts argue that some people are predisposed to becoming involved with drugs and alco­hol.

“I just want to make illegal drugs that much more difficult to acquire” in Wellington Coun­ty, he said. But, he noted, “Drugs are everywhere.”

Smith said he can see a co-relations between various areas and various drugs. He noted that Grey, Bruce, and Perth Counties, and communities like Durham, Hanover, Walkerton, and Chesley are “pockets” where “meth use” is con­cen­trated. He added that becomes Wellington County police busi­ness because they are close to Harriston, Palmerston, and Clif­ford.

“Some associate crime with drug use,” Smith added.

Smith currently lives in Hanover with his wife, Susan. They have two sons. A.J. is at Wilfrid Laurier University, and Daniel starts at the University of British Columbia in Sep­tember.