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Survey says opioid and drug crimes are top police concerns in North Bay

'The survey has really demonstrated what the public thoughts are in regards to public safety and crime in our community'
20191010 north bay police car 3
North Bay police cruiser.

Nearly 90 per cent of North Bay residents surveyed are concerned or very concerned about the crime levels in North Bay. 

Those numbers were released at Tuesday's Police Services Board monthly meeting.

"The survey has really demonstrated what the public thoughts are in regards to public safety and crime in our community," said Chief Scott Tod in response to the numbers shown in the presentation.  

"A lot of it consists of what we have heard in 2020 about people feeling less safe in our community and associating that to crime. As discussed before with the board publicly, we talked about the aspect of feeling safe versus being the victim of a crime. Although crime has not increased across the city over 2020 versus 2021 in many areas. It has increased in some areas such as assault and as we have had three homicides in 2021; I am sure that is concerning."

Mayor Al McDonald also expressed his concerns when he saw the results.  

"I think the perception of the crime out there, we should be listening to our citizens so really just interested in what we were going to do as a police service as how we counter-act the feeling of some of our citizens," said McDonald during the meeting. 

The poll which was conducted in August is part of the police service's strategic plan, consulted with the public on their views on crime and policing issues.

About 500 respondents took the poll which was a phone survey done through Oracle Polls.  

The survey also revealed that 52 per cent surveyed believe opioid and drug crimes are their biggest concerns.   

"But what I do take away from the survey is the aspect the public pointed out that they believe the opioid crisis is a substantial threat to our community; for public safety and for crime and that any drug trade or any illegal drug action in regards to the opioid crisis is certainly concerning to our citizens," said Tod.  

"I also believe it is an example of really in the broader society with the increase of homelessness within our society and it's not just North Bay but many other communities."

Tod says many other communities are also showing similar traits where citizens have a fear of safety and being victimized by crime.

The survey also asked residents whether they would use an online option to potentially report a crime. The survey indicated that 62 per cent would report property crimes online and 27 per cent would report historic crimes such as domestic abuse. 

As well, more than 80 per cent surveyed support the future use of body cameras for North Bay Police officers.  

"I think this survey is very influential for us on where we are going to go with our strategic direction when we report back to the board in regards to the fear of crime and the fear of public safety within our community," noted Tod.  

Tod says they are not alone with this issue as he notes that many of the social service agencies through the Community Gateway Hub table are also addressing issues of feeling safe within our community. 

"As we go forward with our strategic plan I think it is important that we address the fear and safety in our community, as well as the fear of being a victim of a crime.

"It has a lot to do with increasing - as we see - the visibility of our service across our community."

Tod feels it is important the that service addressed the concerns raised by the public within the new strategic plan they are working towards.