Crime Map Demonstrates Communication Problem


Crime MapTHUNDER BAY – Thunder Bay Police Service Executive Officer Chris Adams unveiled the service’s new crime mapping feature on June 28th. Through the month of June, there are 163 crimes recorded on the map.

On the Thunder Bay Police Service website, there are 16 media releases outlining what the police have reported to the public. One report, on June 12th simply states, “Thunder Bay Police were busy with several demand calls for service to disturbances overnight.”

Now with the crime mapping one can see that there were two assaults and one break and enter reported. On Canada Day there were several break and enters, several assaults and a sexual assault recorded.

For the TBPS, the issue of reporting crime incidents has been one of concern. Sadly what we have seen, for the most part, with a few exceptions, is a classic case of denial. The idea seems to be telling the people of our city that “all is well” has become all too common. What seems to have been forgotten are that the people in Thunder Bay are already aware there are problems, what they are looking for is the leadership needed to solve them.

That leadership should come from the Chief of Police, Robert Herman. As well, that leadership should be guided by the Police Services Board.

Right now, despite assurances that “all is well” there are growing numbers of people in our city who share that they are worried. People are saying that they won’t go downtown at night. They are worried about the impact of crime in their neighbourhoods.

They are worried about the impact of crime on their children.

When you look at the “Sunshine List”, which contains the names of the individuals paid over $100,000.00, the first name on that list for the City of Thunder Bay is Chris Adams, the Executive Officer with the TBPS.

Adams serves as the media liaison, and is the person responsible for communication with the media, and by extension the public. His duties obviously are wider than simply talking with the media, but for police services across North America one of the more important tasks is ensuring that the public knows what is happening.

In Thunder Bay, increasingly the police administration appears to be taking the approach that crime not told is crime not happening. The problem for the police is that increasingly residents are aware that things are not quite what they are being told.

The new crime mapping demonstrates that effective communications remains lacking in Thunder Bay between the police administration and the public.

Chief Robert Herman has allowed through his term as Police Chief, for the degree of communication and open dialogue to narrow. It is not how it should be, and the lack of public engagement, by EO Adams can only be sanctioned by Chief Herman, and the Police Services Board.

Looking over the crime map, the entire situation is laid bare for residents to see what exactly is happening.

Now it is time for Chief Herman to step up and invest the time, and energy needed to make our city safer. Perhaps that is a task bigger, and more important than having Chief Herman sit as the President of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police?

For the Police Services Board, and City Council, perhaps a good idea is to get out and take some ride-alongs on Friday nights and Saturday nights to see what many residents have already seen.

“Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.”

That is one of Sir Robert Peel’s nine principles of modern policing. It could simply be that with the Executive Officer never having served as a police officer, those principles are just words from someone.

They are not; they are the rules that modern policing is based on. In Thunder Bay the reality is that if all nine of those principles were followed, it is likely that some of the issues our police service faces would be easily eliminated.

Working together, Thunder Bay can, and will improve. Part of the solution is likely going to be found in putting new fresh ideas, and leadership atop the process.

In reducing crime in our city, it will likely take many new ideas and perhaps some new personnel into leadership positions.

Crime is likely to be one of the issues this fall in our civic election. After four years of letting things get to where they now are, chances are some incumbent members of City Council might be in for a bit of a shock on Election Day.

Voters who are concerned have a far greater reason to go to the polls than voters who are happy.

Right now, over the summer it is unlikely that much can, or will be done to seriously change things. That might mean voters will take matters into their hands this fall. Public safety is an issue that deserves attention 365 days a year.

That of course is just my opinion, as always, your mileage may vary.

James Murray

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