Anyone wishing to provide input on policing in their neighbourhood is encouraged to file an application with Norfolk County.
The municipality has called applications from members of the public who are interested in sitting on the Norfolk County Community Policing Committee.
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“I sincerely hope we get representation from across Norfolk,” Dennis Travale, chair of Norfolk’s Police Services Board, said at the PSB’s regular monthly meeting on Feb. 26. “I hope we have youth apply.”
The county intends to fill 12 positions by the end of March. The newly-minted committee is the successor group to the 11 standalone committees that used to serve Norfolk County.
Due to dwindling interest and lack of volunteers, the number of community committees fell last year to five. Remaining committees in Simcoe, Delhi, Courtland, Port Dover and Waterford were disbanded last year in favour of the county-wide body.
Successful applicants will be expected to monitor their communities and bring any crime- and enforcement-related issues to the table. The PSB, Norfolk OPP, and Norfolk council will be interested in their deliberations and any recommendations arising from them.
“There will no longer be a silo approach,” Travale said. “It will be more lateral and more cohesive.”
The PSB took time on Feb. 26 to recognize volunteers who served on the last policing committees to the end. One of them was Jessica Stefan, chair of the policing committee in Delhi for seven years. The PSB handed out certificates of appreciation on behalf of Norfolk County.
“We’re someone the general public can approach with their policing concerns and questions,” Stefan said. “We’re about community safety. It’s not a huge commitment of time.
“As a whole, we need people of all ages to get on board with this.”
The creation of a county-wide panel is part of a larger plan to focus police resources on priority areas.
It coincides with tactical measures such as a new false alarm bylaw that imposes a flat-rate $200 fine on property owners who need to fine-tune their systems. The goal, Travale says, is to eliminate nuisance calls so front-line officers can concentrate on genuine enforcement matters.
In a similar vein, the PSB continues to explore ways of reducing 911 misdials and abuse.
The creation of this committee also coincides with the formulation of a strategic plan, one that has already received input from the nine members of Norfolk council. Priorities to this point include a crackdown on “the unlawful sale, distribution, and production of illicit drugs,” the draft document says.
“The PSB recognizes the connection between illicit drug crime levels, the number of property crimes, and the local effect of the national opioid crisis. Reducing illicit drug crime will increase community safety, security, health and prosperity.”
Other priorities so far include crime prevention through data analysis, focused patrols, public education and ongoing community engagement.
A deadline hasn’t been set for the production of a final report. Travale says Norfolk’s new policing committee will have time to find its bearings before members are canvassed for their input.