Police, not buildings, wanted to battle crime in Oshawa’s quickly rising north finish: Durham police
Demand for construction of a new Durham Regional Police station in Oshawa’s quickly-growing north end isn’t likely to be fulfilled in the near future, according to the service.
Bricks and mortar structures aren’t the answer to increasing calls for service and concerns over crime — but more “boots on the ground,” in the form of officers on patrol, are, Deputy Chief Dean Bertrim said.
Bertrim was responding to calls from some Oshawa politicians for construction of an additional station in the north end. The idea is supported by analysis by the city’s planning department, which concludes another station would promote “community safety.” The current station in Oshawa is located downtown, on Center Street.
“We do understand their concern about the growing population,” Bertrim said. “That’s why we look at the resources we have available to fulfill our commitment.
“But community policing isn’t about bricks and mortar,” the deputy chief added. “It’s about our people. Our priority is to have boots on the ground.”
Leading the fight for a northern station is Oshawa Ward 1 Coun. John Neal, who argues a building is part of the infrastructure needed to service the rapidly growing north end, just like schools and fire stations.
“It’s just incredible that north Oshawa doesn’t have a police station,” said Neal, who also represents the city on regional council. “It cannot be ignored any longer. There’s thousands of people going to be moving in there.”
Neal said he simply doesn’t accept the service’s assertion that a station isn’t necessary to provide effective policing in the north.
“Their argument has no merit whatsoever,” he said.
Neal cited recent incidents of gun violence, including a shooting claimed that the lives of two men and resulted in injuries to several other people, at BLVD Resto on Simcoe Street North, as indicative of the need for more police presence in the area.
“It’s very worrisome,” he said. “It’s too important an issue and the arguments I’m getting back don’t hold any water at all.”
Bertrim, however, said the service’s priority right now is on funding adequate staffing to address the area’s needs. A new building would cost tens of millions of dollars, money better spent right now on police and support staff, he insisted.
He added that officers respond to calls while on patrol in dedicated zones, not from a station.
“We don’t have a model where officers are waiting to be dispatched,” he said. “Our officers who respond to calls aren’t sitting at a station.”
Bertrim added that the question of eventually building a new station in Oshawa may be examined as the service creates a 10-year capital expenditure plan. That process could see the aging station downtown replaced, he said.