After just a few months of discussion, the Sault Ste. Marie Police Service will now be able to better monitor the downtown area with the addition of a satellite office, opened in the old Sears building at the Station Mall.
Police Chief Hugh Stevenson told SaultOnline the purpose of this satellite station is to increase the visibility of the Sault Ste. Marie Police, both in this particular mall area as well as for the surrounding businesses. It will also increase the intelligence flowing to the police service, giving these stakeholders “greater confidence in the fact that their police service is listening to the demands of the community and is flexible enough to change their work location at the beginning so there’s greater exposure and visibility of the police in this mall area and the surrounding businesses and on the boardwalks.”
Stevenson explained this move is part of moving past the HEAT unit into a “different type of service, but with the same objectives.”
He said the idea for this facility came directly from his front line officers.
“(These are the people) who deal with the community, who deal with mall security, who deal with the issues on your boardwalk,” he explained.
Stevenson continued to explain that his officers, on their own initiative, worked out a relationship with the mall management and the different stakeholders to secure a place in the mall, to “increase our visibility, increase our intelligence and improve public safety.”
He said he thinks this is a good way for the police to show that they respond to our community.
“We will listen, and we will ensure that our policies, our procedures, our presence, is in relation to the need that is identified,” he said. “Letting that community know that we’re close, we’re available, we’re going to listen, and we will respond.”
Stevenson said this facility also identifies key figures in this community, that are responsible for approximately 70 per cent of the disturbances/offences.
“We can target those individuals that are causing the most problem for this community. We’re also responding to the issues of drug usage in this community, the prostitution issues – our presence here, I know, will have an impact on that industry,” he explained. “And those folks out there, that are involved in these offences, need to understand that we will be investigating them and cleaning this community up.”
Stevenson explained that the core unit will run out of this office as well as around the city, and the various officers that are assigned that zone, and neighbouring zones, can go there to do their RMS occurrences, followup investigations and interviews. He said infrastructure in terms of cars and motorcycles, bicycle and foot patrol will also work out of this office.
Stevenson said, although there’s no timeline for this, eventually they’d like to see the satellite office set up similar to the main station, starting with having officers work from there and then, based on a month-to-month review with the board, potentially becoming an open facility.