The Timmins Police Service has released its annual report for 2020 which included some concerning trends.
In a conference call police board meeting on Thursday morning, Chief John Gauthier explained that despite the added obstacles posed by the pandemic, the TPS maintained a high level of diligence and commitment to major areas of concern.
“As a policing agency focused on public safety and community service, we have certainly had to adjust our business practices to accommodate the new realities of COVID-19,” he said.
The Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Team (MCRRT) proved to be a major asset in 2020, as they handled 820 calls for service, which represents a 25 per cent increase from 2019.
As a result of these calls, 135 people were diverted from the Emergency Room at Timmins and District Hospital, and 21 were diverted from the justice system; 172 people were referred to other agencies.
The team also handled 187 Mental Health Act apprehensions, 144 admissions to the Mental Health Unit, with 100 being deemed voluntary.
The Outreach and Community Safety Team, a program which began in November of 2020, often works alongside the MCRRT, and both groups work to assist those with mental health and addiction issues in a proactive manner.
“The TPS has maintained meaningful relationships with all community partners, striking the right balance between changing restrictions, and emerging technology,” said Gauthier.
The Outreach and Community Safety Team is reported to have already achieved several positive outcomes for 25 people, including connecting those battling substance addiction with medical treatment, and securing housing for individuals.
Gauthier said the group is “striving to bridge the gap between a client and the services that can be afforded to help them prosper and thrive.”
He essentially thanked everyone for their help and co-operation over the past year.
“I'm extremely proud of the strides made in law enforcement and crime prevention in 2020. I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge our first responder partners, community and public health organizations, businesses, and individual members of the public, for their unwavering involvement in keeping our community dynamic in its approach to community safety initiatives,” he said.
The Criminal Investigations Unit continued to be very busy in 2020, with more than 3,300 reports completed, and 91 “major case” incidents. One of those major cases was an opioid overdose fatality in which a person was charged with manslaughter in connection with the death. That case is still before the court.
Two investigators within the unit were trained and assigned to address the rising concerns of human trafficking in the Timmins area. In 2020, a total of six incidents of suspected human trafficking were reported to the TPS. The investigators met with the possible victims and provided resource options.
The Special Services Unit handles sexual assault cases, and they received 83 reports in 2020. Of the total reports, 23 led to charges being laid, however the TPS noted that many cases are still open and under investigation. The TPS added that the total number of reported incidents was “far below” that of 2019.
The E-Crimes unit performed 82 forensic examinations of electronic devices (smartphones, tablets, computers) with 45 per cent related to child exploitation, and 21 per cent related to drug investigations.
“We certainly see this area as potentially one of the highest possibilities of growth in the years to come,” said Gauthier.
The Drug Enforcement Unit also had a busy 2020 with 233 charges being laid, and 42 arrests. Eleven weapons were seized as well as $138,250 in cash.
More than 1,400 methamphetamine tablets were seized, along with over 500 grams in fentanyl (including carfentanil and “purp”), and approximately $58,000 worth of cocaine.
Andrew Autio, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Daily Press