OPP's Younan details crime trends in ACW for council
BY SCOTT STEPHENSON
Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Huron County Detachment Commander Inspector Jason Younan addressed the Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh Council on Tuesday, Feb. 21 to provide an update on criminal activity in the township. Inspector Younan said in 2022 the OPP issued 856 tickets, 276 warnings and performed 57 RIDE checks in ACW.
Inspector Younan pointed out an uptick in car thefts and noted that agricultural communities are vulnerable during planting and harvesting times because farmers sometimes leave keys in vehicles when they are out working in the fields. Making matters worse, those same stolen vehicles are often used in other crimes like street racing and drug trafficking. Inspector Younan stressed awareness and prevention to reduce the frequency of these types of crimes, and challenged council members to think outside the box in order to find solutions for crime-related issues facing the community. Using social media to spread awareness was one such idea he put forward.
Inspector Younan advised council that proactive community policing is best aided by public input. “If you see something, call us,” he said. That includes emergent issues like impaired driving or breaking and entering, and less urgent issues such as theft. He also recommended the use of Crime Stoppers, a community program created for the public to report crimes and provide information to police in an anonymous fashion.
Inspector Younan confirmed that drug use and drug trafficking are major issues confronting the region, and that the county has more than its fair share of this type of crime. Inspector Younan stressed the importance of all levels of government providing necessary services to combat social issues associated with drug abuse and ailing mental health, but also went on to explain that the goal is to make the county as uncomfortable as possible for active criminals.
Inspector Younan noted that overall policing costs to ACW have been trending downward for the past several years. He said policing costs for the township exceeded $950,000 in 2019 but the estimated cost in 2023 is anticipated to be $889,000.
The issue of traffic safety was voiced by Benmiller-based Deputy-Mayor Bill Vanstone and Councillor Evan Hickey, who lives on Nile Road. Vanstone says he has personally observed cars and large trucks failing to stop at stop signs, endangering pedestrians, and Hickey was also frustrated at the extent of observable speeding in the township. Vanstone requested more police vehicles be dispatched to these areas to slow drivers down, and Inspector Younan confirmed the possibility of that as an option.
A final question from Councillor Curtis Blake brought up concerns about human trafficking and prostitution in the area. Inspector Younan assured council that cases of human trafficking are rare in Huron County, though they do happen.
Mayor Glen McNeil thanked Inspector Younan for his report and expressed appreciation for everything being done to keep the ACW community safe.