Fear and Loathing in Thunder Bay

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Thunder Bay Police Service

By Brent Boyko
THUNDER BAY – CIVIC Election – Google Thunder Bay you will find a plethora of issues around homelessness, policing, racism and the like. Now as proud Thunder Bay resident who has been educated, worked in several large industries, and committed my time to volunteer in the
trenches to help uplift the downtrodden, I couldn’t sit back and accept the banter that the blame lies on front line policing services.

Having served as a volunteer fireman in Maple Ridge BC I have seen homelessness, addiction, drug wars, human smuggling and
other henious crimes against humanity from a front seat.

Fast forward several years as I slide into the passenger seat of a city police cruiser on my ride along adventure.

It’s a full moon so I expect there will be mayhem of some degree encountered during the evening. Not five minutes out of the gate we encounter a driver speaking on a cell phone .. jammed into his ear… Come on..it is 2022 if you can’t figure out how to pair your phone to your cars hands-free system, you should leave it in your pocket until you get to your destination.

Fun fact I have been riding bicycle and motorcycles on the road for over 40 years and I have developed an innate sense for distracted drivers and leave myself a wide safety bubble.

Next call a domestic issue, we stop for coffee on my request as its been years since my last night shift and best not be napping on duty! I accompanied my guide on this call to sort out the issue at hand. I was blown away by the patience and
understanding of the officer, who is a trained crisis support worker…I couldn’t keep a straight face when I heard the issue of complaint, lets just say it involves a gas leak
inside a vehicle that was not from an internal combustion engine!

Brent BoykoOff to seek an apology from the counterparty we head across town to put this one to bed.

Ok now we are over an hour into the shift, my coffee is cold and I am listening to the calls and seeing the action happening throughout the city. Remember it was a full moon. Dispatch sends us to a domestic disturbance very close to my home so I listen keenly to the street name thinking where someone can get to on foot. We arrive on scene as second unit, I stay in the car this time as instructed until a scene assessment is complete.

I grab the passenger spot light and pan the scene looking for our perp.

After statements were taken we head to emergency to see if a John Doe has presented.

No sign here, but the ambulances are backed up in gridlock waiting to clear their patients for a next call.

Two off duty officers keep the peace in the ambulance bay, as we know the potential violence our front line health care workers have to deal with on a daily basis.

The tolls of covid, short staffing and generally never having a good shift are seen on all the folks in this wing, but they paint a smile on their face and attend to their issues in a
friendly manner.

No luck finding our perp in the ER. Dispatch pings the cell phone and it isn’t moving so we head back to check some of the greenspaces in my neighbourhood. I love the fact that i have nature surrounding my urban home, but its a mixed blessing when
you consider rambo could be lurking nearby.

Mental note buy additional security floodlights and cams for the perimeter. Not wanting to stop our search but exhausting all the normal hideouts. We head to our next call, a possible abduction at a local shopping mall.

Lights and sirens this time we charge across town in the dated police interceptor with over 300k on the clock.. it handled reasonably well.

This call I met the second crisis support worker on shift as victim statements were taken and a description of the alleged offender was completed. Do you realize on any given shift there are only around a dozen officers on the beat and 2 crisis support specialists to diffuse and de-escalate issues? I knew that but I have observing our front line folks first hand for months in preparation for a possible municipal council position.

Next up, a barfight.. Finally some classic police intervention to witness, grab them and drag them off to HQ to sleep it off.

We arrive and party number one has already left sight. Party number 2 is giving his statement to the officers and is belligerent in his approach.

Again the patience demonstrated in drawing out the details of the altercation and asking if charges would be required was top notch. In the end the complaint did not want any follow-up so close this case. Darn I so wanted a “book em Dano”.

Wow its after midnight now and we haven’t stopped but we get an alarm call to a local school. Heading out we find the area secured and transfer followup to the contract security “keyholder”. More reports and dictation we head back to HQ so I can see first hand the state of the police building and the needs for upgrades. While the external building shows well for its age, my experience tells me there are too many people cramped into workspaces, particularly as we have covid outbreaks on the rise!

I tour the “temporary guest” accommodations and find them comfortable and suitable for the purpose. Having visited Alcatraz first hand i know what archaic jail cells look like..

What I found surprising was the service area for police vehicles, lockups, drug identifaction, and evidence lock up was crammed into a small space. Not ideal for the mechanics to have to clean and service vehicles on a regular basis.

On the summary of my observations, I agree that the police need better facilities to improve effectiveness. Start with a new police board, chief and seek ideas from the folks in blue…what do you need to be more effective in your role to serve and protect Thunder Bay? I will be part of the conversation either at the main table or from the sidelines… Let’s support not criticize the police and work out the issues together!

I challenge (sic) leaders who criticize without first walking or riding along first hand to see the issues with their own eyes before solving the social issues in our city. Yes we have challenges.

Show me a community that doesn’t and follow the history and the money of how they got an enlightened state. It starts with a vision “Thunder Bay the best community to live and raise a family in Canada!” how does that sound??

Put on the boots, roll up the sleeves lets get to work on change.


Brent Boyko is a Thunder Bay resident seeking to make a difference in our city. He is running for City Council in the McIntyre Ward.