In the city of Cambridge here in the province of Ontario, community safety is a topic of contention. It’s been this way for several years. Residents may recall a “Take Back The City Rally” held in front of city hall in September, 2020.
Three years later a new mayor is addressing the issues and concerns by hosting two town hall meetings. The first took place on July 13th. At that meeting many reported on problems directly associated with the homeless encampment established by the Region of Waterloo behind 150 Main Street. I felt sorry for home owners on Shade Street with property facing this encampment. Many of the comments focused on criminal activity in and around this site. Unfortunately the police were not there to address any of the concerns or comments. They (the police) were scheduled to be at the second meeting planned for September.
Last Monday, September 18th, that meeting took place. I couldn’t stay for the whole meeting. It was too repulsive. For what the police brought to that meeting they may as well have stayed home.
The number of times the chief of police said “we’re doing the best we can” or we’re doing all we can” was insulting to everyone that had come to the Town Hall looking for answers. I wonder if this chief has political aspirations? He certainly danced around questions and concerns without ever giving an answer.
I mentioned an incident where a victim inquired if progress was made on the crime against them. They were told there was no investigation, as they have received instructions, from the crowns office, not to proceed with any investigation where the dollar amount is below five thousand dollars. The police chief gave me a song and dance, telling me how, when a case reaches the crown attorney’s office they (the police) have no control over what happens. Sometimes deals are made, plea bargains struck, or cases are dropped. I told the chief he was missing the point, because his officers were not even investigating occurrences. I never received a reply.
In his opening remarks the chief of police presented figures illustrating the number of calls they get. A participant suggested his numbers were severely understated as they didn’t account for dropped calls by citizens frustrated with long periods of being put on hold. The chief assured the individual that all calls, even the dropped calls were accounted for. Assuming he is correct this would mean the department is not nearly as busy as he suggested because a number of the calls are dropped and therefore not needing any action from the police.
Since writing the above paragraph I have been informed the chief of police later corrected himself, admitting they had no record of dropped calls that came in on non-emergency (911) lines. However, this means the police have no idea how many calls are never being answered and how many calls for assistance are not being responded to.
In the time I was at this meeting the message from the public was clear and harmonized; ‘you say you’re doing your best and all you can, but it’s not enough.”
Whereas the conversation of the first meeting focused on issues around the encampment at 150 Main Street, that was not the case at this Town Hall meeting. Why? Because that encampment is gone. Well, more correctly, it has moved.
It still exists, but now it is on the edge of a public park; Soper Park. One woman told how a group of men blocked her from crossing a bridge in the park while on here way to work. Others relayed details of stolen bikes being dismantled and reassembled in plain view in the park, while others talked about stolen patio umbrellas clearly seen in the encampment.
The message from the police was nothing short of regurgitation of what we have heard for the last 8-10 years; we have to be understanding of the less fortunate in our society.
I would suggest it would be easier to show compassion for the less fortunate among us if the police first did their job and separated the criminals from those in need of compassion and assistance.
Do I blame the police? Absolutely!
If doing the best they can means “doing all we can with one hand tied behind our backs” they need to speak out. They are our front line of defence and if administrators, politicians and bleeding hearts are making it impossible for them to do their jobs then they need to call out these people for the chaos they are causing.
Another police officer was just shot and killed in British Columbia. There are more guns on the streets of our cities than there have ever been yet we have stricter than ever gun laws. Did the police create that problem? NO! That problem is courtesy of our politicians, judges and lawyers.
It’s time for a policy of “Broken Windows” where criminals are arrested and charged and forced into the legal system. Let the law breakers know their attitude and behaviour will not be tolerated and the law makers know what kind of a mess they have given birth to.
As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the formation of the city of Cambridge we need action to make this a safe city in which to live work and play. Whose responsibility is it? It’s everyones, INCLUDING THE POLICE!
I have posted a link to the second town hall meeting here. Take time and hear the frustration for yourself.