FILE -- Thunder Bay Police Service chief J.P. Levesque
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The city’s police chief is in favour of issuing tickets rather than charges for less severe offences.
Citing backlog in the court system, Thunder Bay Police Service chief J.P. Levesque used the example of possession of small amounts of marijuana as an example of an offence that would be better off handled by ticketing.
“I think decriminalizing small amounts of say, marijuana, is a step in making things more efficient in the court process,” Levesque said. “You charge somebody under the (Controlled Drugs and Substances Act) for possession of marijuana and the officer is typed up in court and the Crown attorney’s office is tied up.”
The idea is supported by the Canadian Association of the Chiefs of Police and is being considered by the federal government as a measure to reduce costs of policing.
The current system racks up overtime costs for officers very quickly, and most of the time unnecessarily.
“I think it’s somewhere in the neighbourhood of 80 per cent of our officers show up to court and never end up testifying,” Levesque said.
“An appearance in court is an automatic six hours of pay for our officers and that’s a huge part of our overtime budget. Any efficiencies we can find I support.”
Levesque stressed that it would only be possession for very small amounts that he is a proponent of issuing tickets.
More severe offences such as trafficking need to continue to be enforced by charges, he said.
Levesque added that he is in favour of minor summary offences, such as cause of disturbance, being examined to determine the impacts of issuing tickets for those as well.
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