(THUNDER BAY, ON) – The Thunder Bay Police Association wishes to express its concern with the recent article regarding crime stats for the city of Thunder Bay and comments made by both the mayor and acting chief of the Thunder Bay Police Service.
We believe that if you ask any of our 300-plus members, or any random citizen of this great city, you would get a far different answer than “City getting safer.” Our members work diligently shift after shift trying to respond to the numerous calls made to our police on a daily basis. This police service has one of the highest rates of calls for service in the province and there appears to be no end in sight. Our officers are getting burnt out as more duties are downloaded upon them from the province. They spend more and more time doing regulated reports and sitting at the hospital, which takes away from patrol time and puts more stress on available officers.
The quote attributed to the acting chief which stated, “It’s not like someone is walking down the street in the middle of the afternoon firing a gun” is most disturbing. Although gun violence is not on the same level as larger metropolitan areas in southern Ontario, we are seizing more and more guns off our streets. With the influx of gang activity from the south and west, these types of calls are becoming more and more prevalent.
Another issue we have is with the comparison of us to smaller communities under a population of 100,000 people. On any given day, the population in Thunder Bay can be greater than 40,000 over our census rate. Thunder Bay is a major hub in Northwestern Ontario with many people coming in from outlying areas. We are also one of the only communities where both major national highways converge into one. This means anyone travelling by car, bus, motorcycle, bicycle or foot will visit our city.
Statistics Canada’s crime report for 2017 shows that the number of reported incidents has dropped for the previous years back to 2013. While this is encouraging, is it because we are now safer or just not reporting all crime out of frustration with a broken system? It also shows an increase in the crime severity rate and sexual assaults. Gun violence is also increasing across the country.
It is time for the provincial and federal governments to step up and provide the funding necessary for us to do our jobs. Whether that is by providing social and economic programs for our citizens in need so they have the resources to reclaim their lives or to put more officers on the street where they are needed, something needs to be done.
The reality of Thunder Bay is that crime is on the rise and we will not “take it with a grain of salt.” Everything from gangs moving into the city with their guns, drugs and human trafficking, violent assaults in the streets, robberies and highly-aggressive people looking for assistance seems to be an almost daily occurrence.
Our acting chief did say it well in another article stating “As a police service, we take the work that we do very seriously. We are diligent in our work and we want to ensure that everyone in our community feels safe.” We echo this sentiment. We are asking for the tools to do that very job as we are sworn to do.
Please let your elected officials know it is time to treat Thunder Bay with the same respect afforded to larger metro areas so we can combat the ills that affect our city and community.
Thunder Bay Police Association
About the Thunder Bay Police Association
The Thunder Bay Police Association (TBPA) represents approximately 325 members of the Thunder Bay Police Service. This includes 215 Sworn Officers and 110 Civilian staff that work within the service. The TBPA is a member of the Police Association of Ontario as well as the Canadian Police Association. The Executive of the TBPA is comprised of 11 elected members that handle the day to day issues and operations.
Our Association’s main objective is to represent our members. One key area of representation involves Collective Bargaining to obtain fair Collective Bargaining Agreements with the Thunder Bay Police Services Board. The Collective Bargaining Agreements cover rates of pay, seniority, health care benefits as well as other rights and benefits. If at any time, the TBPA feels that any of these rights or benefits has been violated, there is a grievance process to be followed if there is no informal resolution.
This is but a small part of the duties that are handled by the TBPA.
We also represent our members in disciplinary hearings as well as any disputes that arise. The majority of the interaction is with the Chief of Police or the Deputy Chief of Police. They are responsible for the daily operations of the Thunder Bay Police Service. Our Association and Senior Management work to ensure we provide the best possible service to the citizens of Thunder Bay and Oliver Paipoonge.
Our members are community driven! Many volunteer their time with charitable organizations. The TBPA is the lead sponsor for the Parade of Lights that occurs every December. Our Association members volunteer to conduct traffic control, walk the parade route collecting donations, as well as being a part of the organizing committee. We also spearhead the annual Cops for Cancer head shave campaign. This event raises resources to help in local patient services while also providing funds for world class research. The Special Olympics is a favourite organization of the TBPA. Law enforcement agencies all across Ontario partner with this terrific group to help provide services and opportunities for these extraordinary athletes.
Not only do we donate our time, the TBPA donates a substantial amount of money to charities and organizations in and around the Thunder Bay area. As an example, we have committed to a long term pledge with the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre to donate funds to the Exceptional Cancer Care campaign. We also support the Thunder Bay Police Youth Corps that benefits young people in our community.
The Thunder Bay Police Association is 325 members strong. We are your friends and neighbours in and around this community. We ensure that you receive the absolute best from us to guarantee a safe and secure society. Our motto is “To Serve and Protect”.
Greg Stephenson, President
Thunder Bay Police Association
Citizen journalist born and raised in Thunder Bay, Ontario. I like pizza and reporting on concerning events that are in my home region, or that impact it. You can read more by clicking here.