Pubdate: Fri, 11 Nov 2005
Source: Flamborough Post (CN ON)
Copyright: 2005, Flamborough Post
Author: Dianne Cornish


As expected, the top brass at Hamilton Police Service was grilled by 
Flamborough residents Monday night at a Community Safety Forum in Waterdown.

The major complaints centred around lengthy police response times and 
the lack of police visibility in the area. There was also talk about 
drug use, particularly marijuana, by high school students throughout 
Hamilton and traffic problems on Waterdown's gridlocked Dundas Street.

Police Chief Brian Mullan's recital of statistics showing that 
Flamborough's calls for service (on average, about one call every 24 
hours) are much lower than other parts of Hamilton didn't sidetrack 
residents from asking for more policing. Several of the 20 residents 
at the meeting felt that Flamborough's current service of four patrol 
units isn't sufficient.

Pointing out that Flamborough's population is on the rise, Waterdown 
resident Peter Kalman asked, "Is there some magic formula based on 
population or crime stats to get additional policing?" Chief Mullan 
said the Police Service "hasn't lost sight of the growth rate" and 
Deputy Chief Tom Marlor is in the process of looking at current 
staffing across the city to determine if there is need for expansion 
in particular areas.

Bob Jarrett, a retired chartered accountant whose Milburough Line 
home has been broken into three times in the last year-and-a-half, 
talked about the unacceptability of police response times of 45 
minutes to an hour. He said he pays $834 on his tax bill for police 
services and doesn't believe he is getting his money's worth.

Jarrett estimated that Flamborough residents contribute about $7 
million to $8 million in police costs annually.

"How do you justify having four officers for $1 million to $1.5 
million?" he asked. "We either deserve a huge tax refund or a huge 
increase in service," he said.

Chief Mullan responded that police service in Flamborough includes 
more than four beat cars. Several plainclothes officers work in the 
area, as well as division safety and school liaison officers. Police 
services also include shared resources, such as tactical squads, 
accident reconstruction teams and major crime unit personnel, the chief said.

Shelley Scott, director of Flamborough Information and Community 
Services which works in partnership with the area's Crime Activity 
Prevention (CAP) program, suggested that part of the challenge in 
policing the Flamborough area lies with its rural character. A recent 
survey revealed that 30 to 40 per cent of respondents living in rural 
Flamborough didn't report break-and-enters.

Rural residents are aware of the longer response times and often 
elect to look after things for themselves, Flamborough councilor 
Margaret McCarthy told the crowd.

"They're pretty much self-policing," she said of the rural residents. 
"Geographically, culturally and economically, we are different," she 
said, asking that police take note of the area's unique nature and 
"appreciate our difference."

Chief Mullan pledged that findings of the local survey undertaken 
last winter will be reviewed and considered when police draw up a new 
business plan which will run from January, 2007 to December, 2009.

The chief and about 10 other police personnel at the community forum 
- - including the new superintendent for Division 3, Ken Bond - heard 
Waterdown resident Michael Kondrat recite his frustrating experience 
of holding a robbery suspect for police for six hours to no avail. He 
eventually had to let the man go because of poor police response.

Chief Mullan assured Kondrat that Supt. Bond would get details of the 
incident directly after the meeting and look into it. "We will hold 
that officer accountable," he said of whoever handled the case.

Kondrat also told of a serious traffic problem near his Dundas Street 
East home. Some westbound drivers, frustrated by gridlock, use the 
centre turning lane of Dundas Street as an express lane near First 
Street causing a traffic hazard. The problem is getting worse and 
needs to be addressed, he said.

Another resident in the Hollybush/Howlandmills Drive area spoke of 
the high number of tandem trucks travelling along Dundas Street and 
the difficulty experienced by area residents in accessing the road.

A Safari Road woman told of a harrowing experience where she returned 
home to find that someone had broken into her dwelling. Her fears and 
frustration were heightened when she was "put on hold for two rounds of 911."

It also took six hours for a police officer to arrive at her home, she said.

Since the break-in occurred, she has installed a security system in 
her home. But she vows that if there is a future break-in, she won't 
call police but "will deal with it myself."

"We certainly don't want that," Chief Mullan said. He talked briefly 
about a new policing model that will be introduced early next year 
called the Neighbourhood Policing Program which will improve the 
level of service on calls for service.

Councillor McCarthy, while presenting "a shopping list" of concerns 
put together by CAP volunteers, suggested police officers be more 
visible at Waterdown's shopping plazas.

Earlier in the meeting, a volunteer with Flamborough's Community 
Policing Association warned that drug use by youth is prevalent in 
and around the plazas. She suggested that many of the break-ins at 
the plazas are associated with youths looking for money to support 
their drug habits.

Police were also asked to target other areas, such as Gatesbury Park 
in east Waterdown, where drug use and youth parties are also a concern.
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