Questions from the mayor and a city councillor about a seeming lack of police representation at city council meetings are something the deputy chief wishes hadn’t been made so publicly.
At Monday’s council meeting, Mayor Keith Hobbs said he’s noticed the absence of not just the Thunder Bay Police Services chief Bob Herman, but even a designate at most council meetings. McIntyre Coun. Trevor Giertuga said Herman or a police representative are only around during budget time.
TBPS deputy chief J.P. Levesque said he would have preferred the matter be brought to the department instead of publicly aired at Monday’s regular scheduled council meeting at city hall.
“It’s out there now and we’ll deal with it and I think it has been dealt with,” he said Tuesday morning.
Levesque said Chief Herman and city manager Tim Commisso discussed the matter Tuesday morning and came to a solution.
“We know it’s an agenda review issue and in the future we will ensure that there’s somebody there from the police service to answer policing questions,” he said.
Hobbs and Giertuga’s comments came after 17-year-old Cassandra Spence made a deputation about wanting the city to light a trail system from Castle Green to County Park known as the black path.
Spence said her boyfriend was attacked on the path last summer and she came to council with 500 signatures on a petition from area residents.
Levesque noted the issue was a late addition to the meeting’s agenda and said the police service assumed it was a petition going to council and that there wouldn’t be a lot of Q&A on the issue.
He added that the police do make themselves available to city council and administration when needed.
“I think we will be flagging agenda items and starting to ensure that we have police representation,” Levesque said. “If there is policing issues, I agree we should have somebody there and we will endeavour to have somebody there in the future.”
The police service has received a formal request from the city manager to assist city administration in developing a report that will go back to council Feb. 9 on crime and disorder problems in the black path area, noted Levesque.
He said crime prevention through environmental design is prevalent these days and that clearing away brush and lighting the area better makes sense and is something the police would endorse.
The County Park area where the black path is found is about “middle-of-the-road” for level of crime compared to the rest of the city.
“It’s not the worst place in town; it’s not the best place in town. It deserves our attention like a lot of other areas in the city,” said Levesque.
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