Downtown Sudbury businesses share concerns at community policing forum
'It is really important that everyone is involved in that discussion,' police inspector says
Sudbury's downtown community is coming together to talk about policing in the city's core, after a community forum on Tuesday involving local businesses and social service providers.
The focus of the forum was on creating a safe and welcoming downtown, according to Inspector John Somerset, who heads the community support division with Greater Sudbury Police.
"I discussed the idea with our local business improvement association (BIA), who wanted to bring together the local businesses and community organizations that service in the downtown area and discuss some of the concerns of those agencies," Somerset said.
As we continue to enforce laws and champion community safety & wellbeing, it is vital that we all work collaboratively with organizations & local businesses to mobilize our community and increase positive change. Thanks to all who attended today’s Policing forum. <a href="https://twitter.com/downtownsudbury?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@downtownsudbury</a> <a href="https://t.co/kIycvCvWwm">pic.twitter.com/kIycvCvWwm</a>—@SudburyPolice
Concerns include vandalism, social disorder
Some of the concerns addressed at the forum included panhandling, loitering and drug use, Somerset said.
Vandalism has been another problem in the area, particularly for restaurants like the Damascus Cafe, which had its windows shot out with what police believed to be an air gun.
Recently city staff also recommended increased security at the transit terminal, by hiring two additional municipal enforcement officers to improve safety for transit riders and staff. That recommendation was approved by the city's Community Services Committee in July and is slated to go to council later this month.
Somerset said these concerns are not unique to the downtown, as police have seen an increase in instances of property crime and calls related to social disorder across the city.
But Jeff MacIntyre, chair of the Downtown Sudbury BIA, said it's especially important for members of the community and police to work together in such a densely populated area.
More visible police presence downtown
"We're trying to work with police to make sure we're maintaining a friendly and inviting downtown," McIntyre explained.
"A lot of it was [about] getting our members to know the police officers that are in the downtown, how to access them and how to have kind of a communicative relationship with them."
Improved communication is one strategy to come out of the forum, as well a more visible police presence in the area. Somerset added policing is about more than just enforcement these days.
"People look to police to conduct enforcement, it's our traditional role, and while there is a time and place for specific enforcement as it relates to crime, it is not a long term solution," he said.
"It is really important that everyone is involved in that discussion, that everybody's voices are heard and that we work together to address issues. The police alone can certainly not solve many of the social issues that cause these concerns, and it does take the whole community to really address them and move forward."