Report tackles calls for police service

A committee struck in December 2011 to investigate why calls to the Barrie Police Service were increasing at the same time the overall crime rate was declining has made recommendations to divert some calls for service to other municipal resources.
They are: noise and animal complaints, ambulance assists, mental health calls, and 911 responses.
Called the Resource Allocation Sub-Committee, part of the Barrie Police Services Board, it was struck last December at the request of Mayor Jeff Lehman. The “paradox” of rising calls and dropping crime rate prompted the board to look at ways of freeing up police time.
The benefit to Barrie residents, according to the report, would be faster response times to other calls, including those of an urgent nature, as well as potential police budgetary relief.
The problem of rising calls for service is not unique to Barrie – it’s a national trend. The spike has many drivers, says the report, including easy and increasing use of mobile phones, legislative requirements, and unintended calls, such as 911 ‘pocket-dials’ from smartphones.
In 2009, calls for service totalled 54,139. That’s projected to jump to more than 60,000 by the end of 2012. It’s hoped that diverting calls, or in the case of 911 increasing education and awareness to prevent frivolous calls, will take pressure off the police department.
With animal and noise complaints, the committee recommends that municipal bylaw enforcement take a larger role. For mental health calls, it’s recommended that work be done with the Royal Victoria Hospital to reduce wait times at the emergency ward, and with the Canadian Mental Health Association to develop programs to reduce calls.
Read the full report here.

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