Constable Brad Reaume has worked in the North Bay Police Service’s Street Crime department for eight years now.
While it has become common for citizens to call in drinking and driving incidents, the same cannot be said when it comes to citizens offering information about drugs.
“We have people that are reporting impaired driving offences,” said Reaume.
“These people are calling 9-1-1. They are helping people out, they are providing their name, address, and statements. We don’t get those type of calls surrounding drug occurrences. People want to remain anonymous for some reason because of the fear and stigma that surrounds telling on those types of people.”
In fact, during his eight years on the street crime unit, Reaume says only once has he had someone come forward to give their name and statement relating to a drug investigation. As you can imagine, that can make the investigation process a real challenge.
“Many of them are neighbours or family members of people that just don’t want to get their name involved because they are concerned,” said Reaume.
“They are scared, and the reason why they are scared is the stigma out there that has created this fear.”
Reaume is going to be discussing the topic at a free community engagement forum hosted by the Community Drug Strategy Committee. That event will take place on March 21 at Odyssee from 6:30 to 9 p.m. and will address a number of topics relating to drugs.
But with the opioid drug problem growing significantly, Reaume believes the community needs to come together to combat the problem.
“I don’t think it is a secret we are on the verge of an opioid epidemic that is sweeping through Canada,” he said.
“I think our community is being impacted right now in the beginning stages. It is coming significantly fast. Our mortality rates are increasing, the calls related to Fentanyl overdoses are increasing. North Bay paramedics report a 500 per cent increase of suspected opioid overdoses last year from the year before. So we are up 500 per cent in one year.”
Reaume hopes that a forum like this will help convince those with knowledge of drugs in the city to not consider themselves narks, snitches or a tattletale, instead look at themselves as community heroes.