Leadership with the Kenora OPP say the amount of time officers have patrolled the streets of Kenora has doubled over the last three years, and further increases are expected in 2023.
In response to an emergency Council meeting at City Hall to discuss business owners and residents’ concerns downtown over the holidays, with the Kenora OPP in attendance, Detachment Commander Jeff Duggan recommitted to increasing OPP foot patrols in downtown Kenora.
Duggan also committed to more OPP foot patrols to address downtown safety in December, 2021.
After a request for further information, Duggan detailed the amount of foot patrols Kenora has seen over the last few years – which already shows a major increase in police activity between 2019 and 2022.
The OPP’s statistics for the City of Kenora are broken down as:
2019 – 1,047 hours on foot patrol
2020 – 1,415 hours (35 per cent increase from 2019, 35 per cent from 2019)
2021 – 1,559 hours (10 per cent increase from 2020, 48 per cent from 2019)
2022 – 2,331 hours (49 per cent increase from 2021, 122 per cent from 2019)
“The plan as committed to at the Public Meeting will be to increase those numbers and ensure we are doing foot patrol hours at key times when people are in the downtown, businesses are open and we can make the most impact,” explains Duggan.
Kenora’s Detachment Commander and Inspector adds that staff are working with community partners to establish a downtown office that officers can work out of, and notes a number of officers have received bike patrol training – a tool the OPP plans to use much more in 2023, once the snow clears.
“We are committed to Public safety and are looking at all options for the downtown core,” adds Duggan. “We are also working behind the scenes and out of the public eye with partner agencies and supporting agencies to work together to tackle these issues.”
As well, the City of Kenora now has plans to hire a dedicated Community Safety and Well-Being officer to assist the OPP downtown as a commitment from Council to address downtown safety.
“Having a Community Safety and Well-being member of City Staff will also be of great benefit to us and the City of Kenora. We look forward to that rolling out and seeing what that looks like,” adds Duggan.
The conversation in Kenora has been sparked by a number of incidents in our downtown core throughout late November and December, including at least five businesses reporting instances of crime or harassment.
Throughout the month, incidents in downtown Kenora have included an employee at the Red Apple being the victim of an assault on December 10 and a 23-year-old was arrested.
The owner of Island Girl, Michelle Livingston, was also assaulted on December 23 and a 29-year-old has been taken into custody.
Elsewhere, the Spirit Oak Tree Company warned of harassment at their storefront on December 27. Windows were also reportedly smashed at the Bannister Centre, windows were smashed at Market Square and the deck of Prelude Travel was damaged.