Volunteers out, Aux cops in at Concession Street location
By Mark Newman, News Staff
Business owners on Concession Street should be seeing a lot more auxiliary police officers in the area in the coming weeks.
The Hamilton Police service is moving the Auxiliary Unit to theConcession Street community policing-crime prevention centre while centre volunteers are being encouraged to pursue their activities online.
“This is in response to the requests from community groups for a more for a more visible police presence,” notes a March 6 email from police volunteer coordinator Laurie Porthouse to volunteers that has been obtained by Hamilton Comunity News. “Our Auxiliary Unit will be using the location as a base for all of the mountain activities and will be able to expand their Safeguard Audits and Crime Prevention programs in the Concession area.”
The email does not indicate exactly when the Auxiliary Unit will be in place on Concession Street, how many auxiliary officers will be involved or the hours of operation.
It does suggest police volunteers use the services’ online scheduling system to sign up for activities in the city and by doing so; they will not have to visit policing centres as often.
The email also notes volunteers may want to partner with the community policing centre in Ancaster or elsewhere.
The email did not sit well with John McPherson.
“It’s very disappointing,” said the 74-year-old south-Mountain resident who has been a volunteer at the Concession Street Centre for nine years, mostly notably running the Child Identification Program.
McPherson said he heard some rumblings last year that changes were coming but nothing was said to him until he received the email.
“The wool was pulled over our eyes as far as this is concerned,” said McPherson, who wonders why police volunteers and auxiliary officers can’t both use the Concession Street centre. “They weren’t up front with what was happening.”
Along with child identification, policing centre volunteers run a variety of initiatives including keeping tabs on speeders, red light runners and distracted drivers at various locations on the Mountain and in the lower city.
Former policing centre coordinator Jeanette Farraway said she first learned of the move at the end of December and wonders if it is the first step by the police service to eventually close the Mountain centre.
“The lease is up on October 14th and there will not be a policing centre (on Concession Street),” she said.
Central Mountain (Ward 7) councillor Scott Duvall said his staff have been told by police officials the service wants to run its crime prevention department from the Concession Street centre and he will be meeting with Police Inspector Scott Rastin (who oversees the crime prevention centres) today (Thursday) to get more information about the initiative.
“I want to know why (the volunteers) can’t use it anymore,” said Duvall, who noted the police service has committed to maintaining the centre. “They made a promise the public that centre would remain open.”
Hamilton Community News also has a call in to called Rastin for comment.