During the monthly Police Service Board Meeting, the increase in serious crime was attributed directly to the drug subculture in Sault Ste. Marie.
Police Chief Hugh Stevenson addressed those attending the meeting directly and bluntly when asked by Mayor Christian Provenzano about the cause of three fires due to arson and ten weapons related calls during the month of April.
“The reason and cause for those arsons, those weapon occurrences, is purely due to the drug industry that we have foremost. I can tell you that I don’t think one of these, ever investigated, had no ties to the criminal subculture, no ties to the opioid use in the city.” said Stevenson. “None of the 200 employees in the Police Service have ever seen the amount of gun violence in this city related to the drug sub-trade.”
He again placed a portion of the blame directly on the federal government’s Bill C-75.
“Bill C-75 has not helped us and I know you’ve heard me say it before. But on recognizances in the last 35 years of my career, if you are on your second or third recog you were kept in, you were not given the ability to continue your drug, your violent crime episode, that’s over,” said Stevenson. “People do not go to jail unless you’re arrested for the substantive offences, and they’re usually released. You’ve quoted me before on 33 releases, that one individual, that was originally a robbery. So you know we’re all pretty concerned, but different levels of government have to jump in and deal with this crisis.”
Mayor Provenzano addressed two issues with regards to the information provided by Stevenson.
“I think it’s important that the community knows that the police service is responding to that, and that the police service is out there addressing this, dealing with it, making the arrests. I think that it’s critical that the community knows from a community safety perspective, that Sault Ste. Marie Police Services are present and dealing with this,” said Provenzano.
He then took time to appreciate the difficult position officers are in.
“I want to acknowledge that April would have been a very stressful month for the service and for our officers. And working overtime in and of itself is taxing,” said Provenzano. ” I want to acknowledge the work of the police service in responding to these incidents. I know that we will keep on responding to them, and keep on making the arrests when we see criminal wrongdoing.”
He, as well as Stevenson, acknowledged that addictions are a public health issue and efforts need to be made, and are being made, to address that.
“So that people that need care, get care and there isn’t such a significant demand for the system that’s in place to supply people with the drugs they need. To satisfy their health issues and their addiction challenges.”
Stay with SaultOnline as we continue to bring you information about the ongoing issues around mental health and addictions in Sault Ste. Marie.