By Stephanie Egelton
Sergeant Kevin Hummel and Inspector Jason Younan of Huron County Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) updated South Huron Council on the 2014-2016 OPP Action Plan on May 16. The South Huron Police Service Board was also in attendance in the public gallery.
Inspector Younan went into detail of the policing pressures within South Huron over the past year.
“The top five issues we spend time on are domestic violence concerns, property crimes, availability of drugs, mental health issues, and false alarms,” he said.
In regards to the specific items, it was noted that domestic violence issues are “societal” issues in South Huron, and that the Huron OPP has been diligent in ensuring these concerns are addressed.
They aim to reduce the number of property crimes such as break-ins in South Huron through education programs on locking doors and properly storing valuable items; in return, these should lowering policing costs, they said.
“There is not secret that there is an availability and problem with drugs in Huron County,” Younan said. However, this has resulted in successful drug enforcement initiatives, he said.
Mental health has also been a concern, they said, noting that South Huron does have a hospital where individuals can be transported to by police if need be. Younan explained that Huron OPP had started a mental health program called “the situation table” in December 2015. This program allows vulnerable individuals to received intervention services from a multitude of stakeholders in Huron County.
“We don’t have all the answers [regarding mental health] but we can agree that societal issues with mental health plague our schools, work, community, hospitals, and different service groups,” stated Younan.
False alarms were also briefly mentioned as an issue in South Huron, as police still have to respond to these calls, which also cause policing costs to rise.
Coun. Wayne DeLuca thanked the pair for focusing on “the major problems.”
“What I also found refreshing was publicly endorsing the efforts of your staff,” DeLuca said. “That doesn’t happen all the time.”
Responding to a question from Mayor Maureen Cole, Sergeant Hummel said each South Huron household pays around $355.47 annually for policing.