Nfld. & Labrador

$200K for private security in 2 northeast Avalon towns

Torbay, Portugal Cove-St. Philip's officials say they're not satisfied with RNC patrols.

Torbay, Portugal Cove-St. Philip's officials say they're not satisfied with RNC patrols

Torbay Mayor Ralph Tapper says residents seem to be calling less to complain about violators, with a private security team now in place. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

Two towns on the northeast Avalon have hired a company to patrol their streets due to what they see as a lack of police presence. 

Torbay and Portugal Cove-St. Philip's (PCSP) hired the Commissionaires, a not-for-profit Canadian company, this spring to supplement patrols by the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary.

We do need the provincial government to hand our municipalities the authority to issue tickets.- Gavin Will

"The RNC is not willing to do patrols to the degree that we would like to see," said Portugal Cove–St. Philip's Deputy Mayor Gavin Will.

"We've talked with the RNC chief, right down the line about more enforcement from their end," echoed Torbay Mayor Ralph Tapper.

Towns like Torbay and Portugal Cove-St. Philip's say ATVs on streets are just one of the problems they deal with and would like to be able to issue tickets for. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

"We understand the RNC, they are restricted, their resources are limited, but we had to take this step as a town to add to the enforcement and presence in our community," Tapper added.

The towns are spending a total of $200,000 to have the Commissionaires patrol their streets.

Problems, we've had a few

Some of the biggest problems in the area include ATV traffic, illegal dumping and people leaving hypodermic needles, said Will.

"We have had problems with parks being used as hangouts, drinking, smoking," said Will. "We need to have regular patrols." 

The two towns are spending $200,000 between them for the Commissionaires patrols. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

Tapper said in his town, drivers in vehicles and ATVs speeding by some high school students has forced council to act.

"When it came to speeding on the roads, it went to the extreme," Tapper said.

"We had so many calls from neighbourhoods about it, even during the day time, lunch hours when school gets out."

Portugal Cove–St. Philips Deputy Mayor Gavin Will says the town councils want more authority to ticket people. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

The Commissionaires will conduct patrols, and report activity they see to the RNC, but have no enforcement power.

"The Commissionaires will take records. They'll photograph any violations they see. So it's really the record keeping that goes along with what they do," said Will.

Need more authority

Both mayors said they've already seen a difference having the Commissionaires on patrol.

"I'd say in a month or so we had more positive calls from residents than we normally do." said Tapper.

The private security service collects information that can be handed over to police to issue tickets, or conduct further investigation. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

"There is still some activity, but it had decreased significantly."

In the meantime, the two mayors are asking government for a higher level of authority when it comes to enforcement, including ticketing.

"We do need the provincial government to hand our municipalities the authority to issue tickets, for non-moving violations," said Will.

"We need that authority and the request has gone in to the Department of Municipal Affairs and the Department of Justice."

Not a new scenario for RNC

RNC Supt. Joe Boland said police have always worked with municipal and private enforcement since he's been on the force these last 30 years.

"Basically private security or municipal enforcement is usually the eyes and ears of the police," said Boland, who added the RNC has a "very good relationship" with both Torbay and Portugal Cove-St. Philip's.

RNC Supt. Joe Boland says police have always worked in harmony with municipal and private enforceement. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

Officers are assigned to work in these communities, and a sergeant in the traffic division helped come up with ways to make a Pouch Cove intersection safer.

It's all part of the RNC's work with communities, he said.

"We do have the presence. There's community services working in schools, traffic, plain clothes officers. Once we identify an issue in the community, we will work with that community, develop an operational plan," he said.

"Sometimes the RNC will lead that operational plan sometimes we'll support the municipality in addressing an issue within their community."

The Town of Torbay is one of two communities footing the $200,000 bill for a private security company to patrol its streets and report to police. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

About the Author

Cec Haire

Reporter

Cec Haire reports for CBC News from St. John's.