Police chief not a fan of mobile injection sites

Windsor Police Chief Al Frederick at Windsor City Council, January 21, 2019. Photo by Mark Brown/Blackburn News.

Windsor’s police chief is in no hurry to sign off on supervised injection sites, despite the recent overdose death of a teen.

Chief Al Frederick met with reporters Monday following the monthly WPS Board meeting at police headquarters. While other municipalities across Ontario have put in place supervised injection sites in an effort to prevent overdoses, Windsor has yet to do so. The Windsor Overdose Prevention Society, which advocates for these sites, set up a temporary tent in an undisclosed part of town where drug use is known to take place.

The WOPS set up a plain, temporary tent in response to the death on May 27 of 17-year-old Joshua Chouinard by overdose, a death that was reportedly shown on social media. Funeral services were held Monday afternoon.

The chief said while people’s hearts may be in the right place, the legal ramifications cannot be ignored. He also claimed other municipalities have seen an increase in crime in neighbourhoods where these supervised sites are located has increased.

“I have a problem with that, where I cannot trade someone’s safety in order that someone may inject drugs safely,” said Frederick. “I don’t think that’s a fair trade-off and I think that’s what’s happening in these communities.”

Frederick said last fall that he was open to the idea but he was not willing to commit to a site just yet. He said it’s an issue the community cannot afford to take lightly.

“We’re probably talking about something that may be a year out,” said Frederick. “I think it’s a decision that the community has to have a lot of input in because some neighbourhood is going to be negatively impacted. There’s no question about it. That’s the experience in other communities.”

The chief said the trick was to prevent overdoses long before they even happen.

“All of these programs and supports, and the prevention and education about the dangers of drug use is really the way we should be focusing as a community,” said Frederick. “If you do that, then, of course, you’re attacking the issue from the front perspective.”