Pubdate: Wed, 28 Sep 2016
Source: Sault Star, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 The Sault Star
Author: Brian Kelly
Page: A1


City police brass want more training, and equipment, for officers to
deal with potentially hazardous narcotics.

Fentanyl, heroin and methamphetamines are increasing in popularity
among drug users, said Deputy Chief Sean Sparling during a Sault Ste.
Marie Police Services Board meeting Tuesday at Civic Centre.

They're all "very potent," especially powdered fentanyl.

"It's also dangerous for the officers to handle," Sparling told The
Sault Star following the meeting's open session. "We have to be very
mindful of how we're seizing the stuff."

The proposed 2017 police budget includes $10,000 for two protective
suits and breathing apparatus, clandestine lab investigator training.

"We're having enough seizures of this locally now that we need our own
equipment," said Sparling. "We've managed our way through it, but we
want to get better equipped, better trained for it so we can manage
them ourselves."

The police service has "re-engineered" its street crime unit to focus
on mid-and upper-level players in the drug trade.

"We're really trying to get into the distribution level so that we can
affect a bigger geographic area," said Sparling. Crackdowns on drug
dealers on the street will be done "as required."

Drug use is "driving" property crimes such as home burglaries and
thefts from vehicles, he added.

"That's what they use to feed their drug habits," said Chief Robert
Keetch. Break and enters are up nearly 50% in the first six months of
2016. Business break-ins jumped almost 90% from 18 to 34, while
residential burglaries soared 44% from 117 to 169.

Sault Ste. Marie Police Service is working with Sault Area Hospital,
Algoma Public Health and other partners to develop a community drug
strategy. Planning began more than a year ago and is expected to be
completed in 2017, said Sparling. Components, including prevention,
intervention, counselling, addiction services and enforcement, make
for "a very holistic approach," he added.

"I think it's the best interest for everybody to have a made in Sault
Ste. Marie, made for Sault Ste. Marie strategy," said Keetch.

The proposed city police budget for 2017 is $26.5 million. That's an
increase of 1.17% compared to 2016. Senior police administration
"appreciate" the city's fiscal situation. The municipality is owed $14
million in taxes from Essar Steel Algoma.

"We've gone as lean as we can go," said Keetch. "We've done everything
we can to attempt to minimize the impact a potential budget increase
will have on local taxpayers while maintaining our ability to deliver
policing services in the community."

He declined to give a copy of the budget to reporters until city
council approves the fiscal document. That's expected to happen in

Marchy Bruni, a Ward 5 city councillor and board member, asked "Where
would the money come from?" if police need to probe a major crime.

The extra cash, for expenses such as overtime, "would have to come
from the city somewhere," said Keetch.

"We won't be able to sustain a long-term, major homicide investigation
within this budget," said Sparling. Police have probed one murder since 

Police may post maps online detailing where crimes such as robberies,
thefts from vehicles and burglaries are happening. Specific addresses
where incidents happened would not be identified, said Sparling. The
information "could be used as a preventative nature," he said.

Midland Police Service's website shows streets where incidents,
including neighbour disputes, suspicious persons and noise complaints,
were reported.
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MAP posted-by: Matt