(BlackburnNews.com file photo by Dave Richie)

CK mayor not resting on low crime laurels

The Mayor of Chatham-Kent is happy that the area is very safe but doesn’t want citizens to take its low crime rate for granted.

The local Crime Severity Index in 2018 showed Chatham-Kent still has one of the lowest crime rates in Canada, even though violent crime has gradually risen since 2014.

Mayor Darrin Canniff told the police services board meeting on Tuesday that he doesn’t want residents to forget about the work that goes into having a safe community.

Police Chief Gary Conn said “no call is too small” and citizens are a very important part of the crime-fighting process because they are the eyes and ears for police across the region. The chief added that crime is lower in areas that have neighbourhood watches and the mayor quickly chimed in saying that he wanted more. Conn said Chatham-Kent has 18 neighbourhood watches that are very good.

Canniff said he feels very safe here and others should too.

“There is a lot of places on this planet where you don’t want to be walking around at night. I never feel unsafe walking anywhere in Chatham-Kent. It’s one of those things we really take for granted. So, I just wanted to highlight that,” the mayor said.

Canniff agrees the justice system needs to be overhauled because career criminals are costing taxpayers too much money and hopes upper levels of government step in soon to fix the slow-moving courts and crowded jails because criminals keep getting released and reoffending.

“The municipality is spending a lot of resources. The amount of effort that each arrest takes, we could be using that to do other things,” Canniff added. “[Federal and provincial officials] need to be more aware of it and if they could fix something for us that would be wonderful. This is one that could save our police service a lot of time, energy and money in our community as well.”

Chief Conn warns that ignoring a crime in progress will keep the vicious crime cycle going and continue to drain valuable police resources. He added the quicker the call, the better the chance of arresting a suspect because his officers have very quick response times.