Traffic and pedestrian safety rises to the top of the list of priorities for Belleville police Chief Ron Gignac.
He noted his officers recorded 1,566 more highway traffic act charges in 2016.
One fatality and numerous life-altering injuries sustained in impaired driving crashes, in the last month, have triggered the chief’s stern response to what he said caused the most danger to public life.
“We have to stop the carnage,” Gignac said during Wednesday’s breakfast meeting with the Belleville and District Chamber of Commerce. “We have to stop distracted driving.”
Observing motorists from transit buses is one new tactic officers are using to weed out distracted drivers.
He spoke of a community survey, done in conjunction with the Loyalist College journalism program, which showed “the number one priority was traffic safety.”
“I need another traffic officer,” he said. He wants the grow the complement from three to four dedicated traffic officers.
Mental health issues often come up during calls, he said.
“About 43 per cent of all police calls have some form of mental health attachment,” he said, that translates to 767 mental health related emergency calls for service.
The newly formed Situation Table, of which police is a member, is tackling the issue. Having access to mental health experts is key, he said. Pilots of interest include experts riding with officers or waiting at the hospital.
Amidst a spike in the demand for service, Belleville police is in a phase of rebuilding, Chief Gignac told the sizeable turnout at the breakfast event.
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