Pubdate: Thu, 11 Sep 2008
Source: Cambridge Times (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 Fairway Newspaper Group
Author: Melissa Hancock


Possession and trafficking offences increase across Waterloo

Drug crimes are up by 31 per cent in Waterloo Region, but the chief of
police says he's confident ongoing partnerships and community
relationships will bring that percentage down.

"Drugs very often is at the root cause of crime," said Waterloo
Regional Police Chief Matt Torigian after yesterday's regular police
services board meeting at the Maple Grove Road headquarters.

In 2007, there were more than 1,400 drug offences in Waterloo Region.
Offences related to marijuana possession increased to 855 from 678
offences in 2006. Cocaine possession offences increased to 224 from
173 in 2006. Trafficking offences related to both substances also increased.

In Cambridge specifically, in 2007, there were 399 illegal drugs - 336
for possession and 57 for trafficking.

Maintaining his confidence that drug crimes will be reduced, the chief
noted that public surveys indicate the community not only considers
combatting illegal drugs a top priority, but also that the community
is prepared to help.

"We can't do this alone," said Torigian, who again noted the
importance of partnerships with various agencies that offer things
like community education and prevention related to drugs.

Increasing the police service's investigative branch as part of a
recent staffing plan, he noted, is starting to show positive results.

Aside from drugs, traffic violations are also up in Waterloo Region -
a 12.5 per cent increase since 2006.

The people of Waterloo Region want speeding and aggressive driving
enforcement to be a top policing priority at the neighbourhood level,
according to the police service's annual citizen survey. There were 11
deaths and more than 1,800 injuries as a result of collisions last
year on area roadways.

At the regional level, youth crime and gangs, followed by drugs, is
what the public sees as a top policing priority.

While drug and traffic crimes in 2007 increased in the region, crimes
against people and crimes against property went down. There were fewer
reported sexual assaults - 485 in 2007; 515 in 2006. There was also a
decrease in the total number of reported assaults - 2,584 in 2007;
2,873 in 2006.

In relation to property crimes, police are seeing more thefts of metal
than in the past, noted Insp. Bryan Larkin during his presentation of
the police service's annual report to the board.

There were more than 9,600 thefts - of property worth $5,000 or less -
in 2007. Incidents in Cambridge accounted for about 2,600 of the
regional total.
- ---
MAP posted-by: dan