Area police services receive program funding

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Local police services are receiving more than $2 million in provincial funding through the Community Safety and Policing Grant Program.

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The funds are earmarked for initiatives that help combat crime such as sexual violence and harassment, human trafficking, mental health and addictions, gang and gun violence and hate-motivated crime. Many of the projects are to be taken in collaboration with community partners. Provincewide 90 boards are receiving funding for 147 initiatives.

Locally, funding will go to the Owen Sound, Hanover, Grey Highlands and West Grey police services boards.

The majority of the local funding is going to the Owen Sound board for three initiatives. It includes close to $1.2 million for the enhancement to the city force’s Community Oriented Response and Enforcement Unit, just under $690,000 for a part-time officer program, and $150,000 for the local Mobile Mental Health and Addictions Response Team.

Owen Sound Police Chief Craig Ambrose said the funding will provide a “tremendous boost” to the department’s ability to provide community policing in the city.

“I’m very much looking forward to getting our new CORE officers out and engaged with the community as we move into the busy summer months and begin seeing many of our community events coming back as COVID restrictions begin to ease,” Ambrose said in a news release.

The funding, made available through the Ministry of the Solicitor General, is being provided over three years.

The nearly $1.2 million for the CORE Unit will build on a pilot program started last year where an officer was placed in the program with duties including community relations and support initiatives, directed enforcement, targeting “hot spot” areas where higher levels of crime are experienced and serving as a liaison between the service and area businesses and support agencies, it said in a release.

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The program has been considered a success with the result a reduction in call volumes, so the service applied for funding to add two new officers to the program. The funding will cover the officer’s salaries and benefits, a new dedicated police vehicle, the services of a crime analyst, and equipment to support bicycle patrols.

The service is also receiving just under $230,000 annually for three years for the part-time officer program, which allows for added resources during peak call periods and for enhanced traffic educarion and enforcement.

The final $150,000 in funding will go towards MMHART, a program that teams up a police officer with mental health professionals at the Canadian Mental Health Association to proactively address issues with people in the community experiencing mental health-related crises and connecting them with the available supports, diverting the cases away from a more traditional police response.

The other boards receiving funding include Hanover, which is getting $84,000 for increased police presence or community trails and downtown safety, Grey Highlands, which is getting over $98,000 for Grey Highlands school and community engagement and a safety officer, and West Grey, which is getting just under $167,000 for enhancing police response to victims of violent crime.

“This funding is a terrific boost for our local police services in Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound,” Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MP Bill Walker said in a release. “Our government is providing significant resources to our local law enforcement agencies to ensure they have the support they need to continue protecting our communities.”

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