On the same day the North Bay Police Board declared intimate partner violence (IPV) an epidemic, Police Chief Scott Tod delivered some grim statistics as part of his domestic violence report.
In July, the North Bay Police Service received 143 domestic-related calls for service, of which 112 (or nearly four per day) were reportable.
"Our average is around 100 to 110 per month," observed Tod, "so 143 in one month is above average for this police service to attend. Thirty-four of those incidents were cleared by charge."
In August, NBPS received 138 domestic-related calls for service, of which 111 were reportable and 30 were cleared with charges laid.
The domestic violence report in those summer months showed a 10 to 15 per cent increase in calls which Tod said "can be a bad news story for certain but there is also the possibility that more victims are reporting, which is what we want.
"We want victims to report. As we know, it's one of the most under-reported crimes in our community, intimate partner violence ... The most important part to me is they are reporting it. Why [the victim decided to report] may be important later in the investigation so we can learn how to change our approaches and messaging."
Executive Director Kathleen Jodouin of Victims Services of Nipissing District presented the Board with statistics about the impact IPV has in North Bay, Nipissing District, and across Canada during the October 17 meeting.
“Daily, Victim Services of Nipissing District and the North Bay Police Service support victims/survivors of intimate partner violence,” said Jodouin. “However, many in our community aren’t as aware of the prevalence and severity of violence occurring in our own community. Declaring intimate partner violence an epidemic increases awareness and understanding and requires an urgent response from not only the criminal justice system but cross-sectorial.”
The Board unanimously passed the IPV motion and Tod later commended the members.
"I give the Board a lot of credit," Tod said, "for declaring intimate partner violence and gender-based violence in our community."
When asked about the value of Victims Services, Tod called the organization's work, "Incredible. One of the most under-funded agencies in the city of North Bay that provide the greatest amount of services."
Tod said his officers approach domestic calls with a focus on the safety of those involved, with a victim-centred approach and trauma-informed services, an aspect for which the police service is continually training.
"We have investigators who are specifically trained to address trauma-informed investigations and victim-centred investigations," Tod added.
Above all else, Tod noted, in the initial stages of a domestic violence call, "the most important part is one is keeping people safe. Identifying a situation, where there's been a violent criminal act and holding that person accountable for that."