Police Chief: Some criminals handled “up to 33 times”

Sault Police Sign and Building

SAULT STE MARIE, ON – There are multiple pandemics running through this community and that was made clear during the last council meeting.

During the tabling of the proposed budget, Sault Police Service made a presentation to the council to justify why they needed a budget increase.

Police Chief Hugh Stevenson was present for questions from councillors to clarify their position. When asked by Councillor Nero about the ongoing issues in the downtown, he gave a very straight answer.

“The reality of policing today is that when you have a Bill C 75. That gives you circular justice, when there’s a lack of deterrence in the criminal justice system. When there’s no long-term treatment, what it means is very simply,” said Stevenson. “We end up dealing with the same person four, five up to 33 times on recall. That is a labour impact. I don’t care how you slice it.”

He noted right now he is using other parts of the budget to deal with issues in the downtown but it most likely isn’t sustainable.

Mayor Provenzano took the time to address the community directly on the issue. He says he hears more about this issue, policing, mental health and addictions than probably any other issue in the city. He also notes that although the city spends over $29 million in policing it is not the police’s fault. It is much more complicated than a policing issue.

“A lot of the people that have addiction, and substance use disorders in our community. They’re not criminals, and they can’t be treated like criminals and they shouldn’t be treated like criminals,” said Provenzano.

“The police service is where a lot of calls get made into. And the police service is the service that receives a lot of the calls. And that’s because other parts of our infrastructure, particularly our health care infrastructure, are not funded properly.”

Provenzano and Stevenson both noted other pieces of our infrastructure need to be dealt with and until that can be done the budget and issues will be difficult to handle on their own.

The end result may be the need to hire more full-time officers if these issues cannot be addressed.


  1. Mr. Provinzano, I’m sorry but I have to disagree with your comment: “A lot of the people that have addiction, and substance use disorders in our community. They’re not criminals, and they can’t be treated like criminals and they shouldn’t be treated like criminals,” said Provenzano. Those with mental health issues or substance abuse issues do need help and unfortunately aren’t a priority with the provincial government, but when they commit break and enters, start stealing packages from peoples doorsteps, etc. they ARE committing a crime and need to be held accountable for these acts. Why do you think the citizens are getting so frustrated with how things are going now. We need to get a treatment center started up for those who need help and are willing to go through the program(s) to get clean and to help deal with the issues that led them down this path; BUT for those who chose to continue in this self-destructive manner, all I can say is that society MUST treat them as the criminal they are for the crime that they’ve done. If they CHOOSE to REFUSE treatment then they SHOULDN’T be able to use their mental health/substance abuse issues in court as a defence for their actions.

  2. These crimes have to be dealt with more in the courts whether it is addicts or poverty caused. Each time a crime is committed to someone’s property their insurance claims cost the property owner. Why should the tax payer pay for increased costs to the police dept. as well. Maybe a jail sentence will bring treatment for the addict. Otherwise it is just a revolving door in the courts. A slap on the hand does nothing for anyone.

  3. Sorry but you can be sick and a criminal. And being sick doesn’t excuse criminal behaviour such as theft and violence, nor does it warrant kid gloves. Leniency can come after they get clean and serve their time in the form of a pardon.

    Furthermore this isn’t a simple “oh they’re sick.” This is a result of poor life choices catching up to a person.

    If someone doesn’t get help after 2 or 3 arrests, let alone 33, they’ve lost all good will.

  4. The addict or persons with substance use disorder that break into our homes, into our cars, businesses or assaults a store owner, staff or pushes an elderly person to the ground to steal a purse. They are criminals and should be treated as such. We have a revolving door for people who get caught committing crimes because there is no real consequence. Stop treating these addicts with kid gloves and put the money where it’s suppose to be and start policing.

  5. Bill C-75 is yet another poorly thought and written piece of legislation which is one of the reasons Canada has seen such a dramatic increased crime trend.
    Thanks can be sent to Justin Trudeau for introducing it in 2018. At that time it was an unpopular bill but with his majority it was swiftly pushed through.

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