Enhanced Timmins police patrols yield results, battle stigma
TIMMINS -- The Timmins Police Service's enhanced foot patrols are bringing positive results after it ramped up efforts on Thursday.
The police service's communications coordinator Marc Depatie said it's in response to safety concerns in areas like the downtown core — and led to solving several issues within minutes of patrol.
"One was a person in full-blown crisis of some form of overdose," said Depatie, noting the man was sent to hospital for treatment.
"The benefit that can be derived from foot patrols — its back-to-basics policing but it pays huge dividends, in terms of public safety."
Curb crime and improve well-being
The Living Space homeless shelter feels the increased police presence will certainly help deter crime, but it also means more ability to direct the city's vulnerable population to social services.
The shelter's executive director, Jason Sereda, said with limited volunteer and staff resources, continued collaboration with police is key to tackling the city's issues of homelessness, drug addiction and mental illness.
"It's only going to help our outreach workers with the work that they do," Sereda said.
"But I think most importantly, it shows the community that we are taking action."
Meanwhile, crime continues to be a problem — many cases of which police attribute to those chronic issues.
Police are currently searching for a suspect who set garbage cans on fire in an RBC bank vestibule Thursday night — which Depatie said baffles police, along with a string of seemingly random assaults in recent weeks.
He said police will continue with enhanced foot patrols as much as resources allow, to help curb crime but also make sure people are connected with the resources they need.
Reducing stigma for people in crisis
Sereda is particularly concerned with insensitive comments made by the community towards the city's homeless, drug addicted and mentally ill in response to these incidents.
Sereda said the likelihood that many of these people could be experiencing financial, addiction or mental health crises makes those comments disheartening.
He believes approaching these situations with empathy would be more productive.
"These are issues that don't discriminate. They don't care what community you're from, they don't care if you grew up rich or if you grew up poor," Sereda said.
"We need to move passed the divisive talk of 'us versus them' and understand that we're one community, we all live in this community and we need to support each other."