Police officer presenting handcuffs. (Photo by Greg Higgins)Police officer presenting handcuffs. (Photo by Greg Higgins)

Decrease in B&E's highlights annual CK police report

Reducing property crime was made a priority for local police last year and recent stats show officers are following through.

The Operational Support Branch Annual Report was presented at the Chatham-Kent Police Services Board Meeting Tuesday morning. Police Chief Gary Conn said the statistics positively reflect the 2018 to 2020 business plan which had three pillars of commitment: reducing property crime, increasing roadway safety, and creating better interactions between officers and people with mental illness.

Break and enters in both residential and business categories decreased by 10 and 27 per cent respectively.

"A lot of this I relate back to the officers and the initiatives we have on the go right now," Conn said. "We have our STOP initiative and our officers are doing a fabulous job when it comes to person stops. They are also doing a great job at doing compliance checks on our more habitual or chronic offenders. A lot of this ties back to drugs. They will commit a B&E to steal property, sell that property so they can go and purchase drugs and ultimately feed their addiction."

Conn was also pleased to announce drug-related crime is also down seven per cent in the municipality. While the chief said some of that decline could be due to the legalization of cannabis, he added there are still other illicit drugs out there the police are winning the fight against.

Another positive Conn took away from the report was complaints about officers from the public. The board estimated the detachment receives roughly 68,000 calls a year and of those, they only received 21 total complaints from the public regarding an officers conduct, service, or police policy.

"Ten of those, so almost half, were determined to be unsubstantiated or when they were directed to the Office of the Independent Police Review Director they refused the complaint," Conn said. "That tells me that the director determined, as we did, that the complaint was either frivolous, vexatious or made in bad faith."

Use of force was also down across the board for Chatham-Kent officers. Total reports dropped from 75 in 2017 to 60 last year. For the second year in a row, an officer never had to fire their gun to protect themselves or a member of the public, though a firearm was used nine times to destroy animals.

Conn added the use of tasers has come a long way from when they were first implemented 13 years ago.

"We are using it less than one time a month with a total of 11 times last year," Conn said. "It really reflects upon the officers in that they are being very judicious and particular in the application of that type of use of force. Same with impact weapons. There were zero instances of baton use and only two instances where pepper spray was utilized which is down from five in 2017."

Naloxone kits are also part of the use of force statistics and were administered four times over the last quarter of 2018. Conn said in two of those cases the police were told by paramedics that the person would have likely died of an overdose had the kits not been used.

Conn admitted the whole report wasn't full of positive news as fraud and counterfeit money incidents jumped 126 and 282 per cent respectively from 2017 to last year. He said there was a silver lining to be had in those statistics though.

According to Conn, the increase in the public reporting online phishing scams is bringing the numbers up which isn't such a bad thing.

"We're doing an excellent job, particularly our public information officer Renee Cowell, in educating the public in regards to scams and frauds," Conn said. "There is a website they can go to look for the telltale signs of fraud and as a result of that we are seeing an increase in those calls because people are aware of it."

The chief urged anyone who believes they are the victim of a scam to check out the FraudSMART website.

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