Also, Azilda collision reporting centre reduces demand on frontline officers
Gerry Lougheed Jr., who was elected chair Wednesday, said Odgers Berndtson, the head hunting firm leading the search, is well into the process and expects to have a list of names of potential candidates in place in the coming weeks.
“We'll have a more detailed update in February,” Lougheed said.
The deadline to apply for the job is Jan. 17, although the firm maintains a database of qualified candidates. The new chief will replace Frank Elsner, who now heads the force in Victoria, B.C. Dan Markiewich is the acting chief of police until a successor is chosen.
Collision reporting centre having an impact
Greater Sudbury Police are only called out to half of the motor vehicle collisions in the city, thanks to the success of the collision reporting centre in Azilda, board members were told Wednesday.
The centre, which is funded by the insurance industry, handles roughly half the accident reports for the close to 4,000 accidents in Sudbury each year.
Sgt. Tim Ross told board members the centre is not only a safe place for drivers to process the information following a minor accident, it allows police to focus on other duties.
“It would normally take an officers 50-70 minutes to attend the scene,” Ross said, adding the centre saves frontline officers about 2,000 hours a year in lost time.
The centre only handles minor accidents in which no one is injured, no pedestrians or other types of vehicles are involved, he added. Staff at the centre upload the accident reports directly to the Ministry of Transportation, saving even more staff time, he said.
The centre also provides detailed data for police, allowing them to quickly access collision statistics. And starting in July, the reports will be inputted electronically, rather than being transcribed from paper reports, meaning real-time statistics will be available to police and the MTO.
“No more paper will be accepted,” Ross said.
New model for policing
A new community safety model for policing – some of which has already been adopted in Sudbury – is being embedded in the policing culture, board members were told Wednesday.
The model aims to reduce the number of calls police must respond to by working to reduce the root causes of the emergency calls.
Dr. Hugh Russell, who is leading the development of the model as part of a provincial committee, said 80 per cent of emergency calls to police in Ontario aren't for incidents that are crimes. Instead, they are related to social issues. So even as crime rates drop in the province, calls for service are increasing, meaning costs are rising at “an alarming rate.”
To address the problem, he said policing culture must change from primarily responding to emergencies to preventing them in the first place. That involves identifying the reason why people break the law, identifying neighbourhoods at risk, and then working with residents and other organizations to find ways to lower the risk of problems.
“Police are not traditionally good at crime prevention,” Russell said. “Everything has to be rethought.”
For example, they know that truancy often leads to more theft, drug taking and other crimes. So they have to look at the causes of truancy, such as problematic parenting or domestic violence. Educating parents is one way to deal with the root causes, but that means police have to work with schools and other agencies to make such a program possible.
Sudbury is already a leader in the initiative, he said, citing the city's mental-health diversion program that has officers taking people to walk-in clinics dedicated to dealing with their issues, rather than to the emergency department, where they must wait several hours before being assessed.
“Greater Sudbury has already taken this further than any other police service in Ontario,” Russell said.
He's working on having the community policing model incorporated into the curriculum at the Ontario Police College.