June 10, 2020 10:14am
The number of public complaints against Chatham-Kent police went down in 2019, but “use of force” incidents were up slightly.
Police said 17 complaints were filed against officers last year compared to 21 the year before. Most of them (13) were for conduct while four were service-related. However, a report presented to the police services board on Tuesday showed that six were unsubstantiated and the cases were closed. The independent civilian oversight agency that handles public complaints against police refused eight last year and chose not to continue with the complaint. Two complaints are still under investigation and one has been resolved, board members were told.
The chief of police also conducted 76 officer investigations last year, the same amount as the previous year. Most of them were for discreditable conduct (15), policy breach (16), and crashing cruisers (21). The report stated that 25 of the cases resulted in counseling or a warning, three officers were disciplined under the Police Services Act, three more cases are still open and the officers are under investigation, 18 were found to be unsubstantiated, and 27 others resulted in extra training, a policy change, or no action.
Board members were also reminded that numerous of the 250 officers and civilian members were recognized in 2019 with one Police Services Board Citation, four Chief’s Commendations, and four Deputy Chief Letters of Recognition awarded.
In 2019, incidents requiring the use of force increased slightly with officers reporting 75 incidents compared to 60 in 2018. Police reported officers drew their guns 32 times during an arrest last year compared to 33 times the year before and 44 times in 2017. Tasers were also used 14 times, which is slightly higher than the previous two years when they were used 11 times each year. Pepper spray was used twice, the same amount of times as in 2018. The use of punches and kicks by officers was also up last year as was the use of Narcan to counter opioid overdoses.
Police also told the board that Chatham-Kent is an up and coming “hot spot” for sex traffickers because of its location on Highway 401, near the border, and between two large cities.
“Human Trafficking has been identified as an issue within the municipality of Chatham-Kent. The increase of available escort websites on the internet brings more sex trade workers, and their “customers”, to the Chatham-Kent area. These websites provide cheap advertising and marketing for traffickers, allowing them to make money from the women they intimidate, assault, and threaten,” the report stated.
Police said there have been several occurrences involving mostly transients in the Chatham-Kent area, which “support the belief that human trafficking is, and has been, prevalent in this area” but added no charges have been laid so far in the area.
Crime Stoppers also saw a jump in calls last year from 805 to 946. That led to more arrests (117) and charges (174) compared to the previous two years and a huge increase in the amount of drugs and property recovered as a result of anonymous tips. Crime Stoppers recovered more than $2.8 million in drugs and property last year which is a big spike from the $259,000 recovered in 2018.