Police chief believes officers should be a higher priority for COVID vaccine

Police Chief Paul Ladouceur believes front-line police officers should be among the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

While the elderly, the most vulnerable and front-line healthcare workers should be top priorities, Ladouceur said officers should be higher up on the list.

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“It makes no sense to me that I’m in the 50 (and over) category, and I can get a vaccine prior to my members who are out there going and dealing with people, often not having the ability to social distance or the ability to isolate and stay away from somebody,” said Ladouceur.

When the EPS is arresting somebody, they don’t know if the suspect has COVID or not.

If a member of the EPS contracts COVID while on duty, they have the potential to infect a whole police service.

And if an EPS officer were to unknowingly have COVID, and responds to an incident involving an elderly person, the EPS wouldn’t want to pass on COVID to that person.

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The EPS saw a 20 per cent decrease in the number of calls for service in January.

According to figures released at the Feb. 17 meeting of the Estevan board of police commissioners, the EPS had 611 calls for service last month, down from 766 calls in January 2019.

Among the crime numbers, the most noticeable decrease was in Criminal Code traffic violations. There were three such infractions in January, with one for an impaired exceed-related offence, and two for impairment by drug.

There were 10 such violations a year earlier, with eight for impaired-related offences.

As for crimes against property, there were 19 in January, down from 41 the previous year. Mischief/willful damage complaints accounted for 14 of the calls, with theft under $5,000 (three) and break and enters to residences (two) the other infractions.

There were three calls under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, with one each for trafficking, possession and production. There were four such charges in January 2020.

As for crimes against the person, there were four in January, down from seven for the first month of 2020. Three calls last month were for sexual crimes and one was for assault.

Ladouceur said the reduction in calls could be related to the pandemic, since the restrictions weren’t imposed until mid-March.

He also noted the EPS is starting to record call times, as opposed to just numbers.

“While the call volumes are somewhat down, we’re actually seeing our call times going up, because of some of the calls we’re responding to,” said Ladouceur.

Mental health calls, for example, require a considerable amount of time.

The call times were not included in January’s report. The EPS is working with the RCMP’s records management system for a system to give them the data.

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The monthly report for Special Constable Morgan Prentice, who is the bylaw enforcement officer, showed she had 104 calls in January, with animal calls (19), parking violations (27), unkempt property inspections (21) and taxi bylaw calls (18) accounting for the bulk of her activity. She had just two snow removal notices last month.

The police chief noted they have had issues with abandoned commercial properties, but those issues have been resolved. Some of those businesses have head offices outside of the city.

“Most people, when they do get the notice, do comply. There are some that don’t, and those are the ones that take a little longer,” said Ladouceur.  

 

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