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A Hamilton police officer keeps things moving during the opp ressive heat wave of JUNE 1958

Cleaning up the core

Extending the long arm of the law makes financial sense
By Erica Strada

Pockets of downtown Hamilton are becoming a little quieter and a lot safer, and that's been good for business .

Taking advantage of funding from the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services under the Provincial Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy, the Hamilton Police Service rolled out the ACTION team in 2010, a group of 40 officers whose mission it was to address violent crimes in 17 targeted areas within the city. But the mandate was also to build a better community in the process, and the feedback has been good for the yellowjacketed squad, notes Staff Sgt. Marty Schulenberg, who oversees the ACTION team. Both personal and website comments suggest that residents and businesses have noticed a significant improvement, and statistics bear that out. A March report noted that from ACTION's initiation to March 2012, Hamilton's core area witnessed a 49% reduction in street robberies, a 32% decrease in stolen vehicles, a 61% tumble in thefts from vehicles and a 25% drop in violent crime. Two independent surveys in 2011 revealed that 91.2% of residents reported feeling safer, while 95.7% felt the ACTION strategy is a good one.

"Having officers on bicycle or on foot removes the car door between the police and public and has dramatically changed the feel that the community has about its officers," says Schulenberg, who has noticed a higher crimereporting rate due to their increased accessibility. He also credits their proactive policing approach for most of the 2,343 arrests since spring 2010—"intercepting a crime before it happens or before it gets reported."

"I've definitely noticed a difference," says Susan Braithwaite of Hamilton's International Village BIA. "It's nice to be able to call the police about a problem and they're right on it, because those units are almost always close by. The businesses feel like they're being closely watched over. And we've seen a reduction of panhandling, which was also a huge nuisance."



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