Coffee with the Police Chief

On February 19 Police Chief Paul VandeGraaf issued an invitation to have coffee with him at the Dutch Oven on Wednesday evening, March 4.  Then on February 20, he issued a statement that “Members of the Cobourg Police Service including Officers, Auxiliary Officers, Special Constables and Volunteers will be present throughout the Downtown core on foot for extra visibility.” (See link below). The Dutch Oven event turned out to be mostly a public Q & A session where Paul (he prefers to be called Paul) explained his view of what’s happening in our Town.  His focus was on Downtown (King, Covert, Albert) and the area near Transition House but other concerns were also addressed.  The session was scheduled for 5 pm to 7:30 pm and just after 5 there were about 45 people.  Although there was free coffee and goodies, few took advantage.

Police Chief Paul VandeGraaf at Dutch Oven
Police Chief Paul VandeGraaf at Dutch Oven

As well as Paul, Auxiliary Police Superintendent Duncan Weller was there as well as Police Board Chair Dean Pepper, Councillor and downtown business owner Adam Bureau and others.  Paul confirmed that it was not a coincidence that his statement re more Downtown patrols came at the same time.  The downtown patrols will include Uniform officers as well as Auxiliary (volunteer) police.  It’s planned to coordinate better with businesses who have CCTV and to have a particular concentration on patrols between 5 and 7:00 pm when shop workers are heading home since now many don’t feel safe.

The format of the evening included one-on-one discussions as well as public Q & A sessions – see photos below.

Key remarks by Chief Paul:

  • It’s not an Opioid crisis, it’s an epidemic; it’s primarily a social issue, not criminal, so not primarily managed by police;
  • But very often the Police are the “social service of last resort”.  Their role is to get help for people and make sure they get connected with the appropriate service.
  • Police are overwhelmed and officers are just as tired and frustrated;
  • In response to comments that in some cases police did not respond to calls or emails or provide updates. Paul said that “the way you were treated is unacceptable” and there will be changes.  He said he was “not happy” and “we have to do better”.
  • If a victim does not get a response in 72 hours, they should call the Chief on his cell-phone – 289-251-3476.
  • Some in the audience said that although Police responded, they did nothing when told about drug users shooting up or fighting.  Paul commented that some amount of fighting between consensual adults is legal and Police cannot convict drug users once the drug has been used –  there’s no evidence, it’s in his blood! But he is working with crown attorneys on the issue.
  • Homeless people were cleared away from Transition house but moved to the bus shelter.  When that was not allowed, they moved to the Victoria Hall Lobby then the Police Lobby. Some even had beer and pizza parties there.  But now Chief Paul has insisted that the Lobby may only be used under strict circumstances.  These are users who have just been made homeless or who are committed to a Social assistance program.  You can’t just decide to live there.  As Paul said “we have hardened the Police Lobby”.
  • Contrary to stories, although some troublemakers (my words) come from out of town, mostly they are local people.
  • The most common complaint was that people don’t feel safe anymore – notably in Downtown areas.
  • Police are planning to use e-bikes since they can go where cruisers cannot, are silent and officers can get off them quickly.
  • Citizens were concerned about break-ins and car thefts;
  • Although recently there has been a definite increase in the level of social disorder, the crime rate has not gone up.  In fact the clearance rate is improving.
  • Paul asked for a show of hands as to who would like e-reporting.  That is, an online way of reporting an incident.  Based on the response (I’d guess half those present), Paul said he will implement this idea.
  • He also spoke about a heat map showing where crimes occur.  The Police already have such a thing but it’s not clear what changes would be made to it.  Go here for the current one.

Paul said that he planned to repeat the open house “Coffee with the Chief” every 3 months.

Links

Addendum – March 5, 6:00pm

On the same day as the Chief was conducting the session reported above, at 1:15 pm a 16 year old boy viciously assaulted a 15 year old boy from St. Mary’s high school. The assault took place at the Tim Horton’s located on the Ultramar property on Division Street. The young thug was arrested. (What else can I call him?)

The incident was reported by both Northumberland News and Today’s Northumberland. Get the full story at these links.

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71 Comments
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Jones
8 March 2020 11:18 am

Are there stats on how many times the police are rearresting law breakers

Johanne
Reply to  Jones
8 March 2020 1:06 pm

Ask them when you will have your coffee. Of course!

Informed
Reply to  Jones
9 March 2020 11:19 am

Daily

Rob
6 March 2020 3:02 pm

Great job to Paul and the Cobourg Police Services … as a resident of Cobourg I appreciate the transparent manner the Chief is going about his business. He is clearly focused on cleaning up the streets and restoring the somewhat tarnished reputation which he inherited. In his short tenure as Chief it has become obvious he wants to engage with the community and build relationships in an effort to Serve and Protect our great town. People are often confused by the role of the police serve and the justice system … its often the latter that fails us, not the former.

Also – Anyone who thinks the Opioid epidemic is simple public intoxication is completely out of touch with reality – I would strongly encourage you to read a book, watch YouTube or spend time with real-life addicts to understand this isn’t a simple issue requiring equally simplistic solutions … wow … ignorance is alive and well in Cobourg.

perplexed
Reply to  Rob
6 March 2020 4:56 pm

Then Make it simply it is what it is dangerous – we are not helping those that may need it
in many cases they are worse off than they know — and don’t believe every thing you see on TV
deal with the situation its getting worse and gone on to long No matter how you want to sugar coat or twist it its wrong and not being firmly addressed . and Yes he the new Chief did move quickly on George st when he took over but I know some thanks must go to Mr Pepper for this push.
You should check out what was really going on over there ask the neighbours
you will be surprised at what went on there for nearly 2 yrs and who these people were .

Observer
Reply to  Rob
15 March 2020 8:57 pm

Rob – have spent time with “real-life” addicts. Some made wonderful recoveries, No it is not about public intoxication. Hopefully something is touched within and the addict says I am tired of being sick and tired. I can beat this. You’re right it is a complex problem.

About the Police Chief – have liked many of his stances and back to law and order but was shocked when he said he thought the public should intervene on the beating outside the coffee shop. Well meaning people have died doing just that – intervening. It is a police matter to resolve not for well intentioned ill equipped members of the public.

Observer
6 March 2020 11:42 am

Hope all of you will attend the Opoid meeting to be set up by the Town, date to be announced to take the time to offer your input. Talk on a newspaper site is cheap.

Leweez
Reply to  Observer
6 March 2020 8:23 pm

Is this meeting in the Police lobby?
Heard they serve pizza and beer there!!

Johanne
Reply to  Leweez
7 March 2020 9:53 am

difficult to criticize the cops in this little berg… they have a God complex about them here… no university degree, very well paid, hard on women, inside outside the force.. they like to give lessons to people as they are master minded. They are the physical aspect of the law. The muscles, not the brains.

Small town lover
6 March 2020 9:11 am

Why don’t the churches open their doors to the homeless. Especially in winter. So many empty churches in Cobourg! I think their God would approve.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Small town lover
6 March 2020 9:47 am

Churches have been suffering from dwindling attendance over many years. They provide wonderful services for the community, but all during day hours. To provide overnight shelter requires adherence to all kinds of health regs, building code regs, and many other responsibilities, all in order to avoid liabilities. That;s just too onerous. Perhaps the churches in Rosedale or Thornhill provide such services.

Small town lover
Reply to  Wally Keeler
6 March 2020 11:33 am

Yes I hear what you are saying but the same would apply to the other places they have been to like the Victoria Hall lobby and the Police Station lobby. I am not suggesting the churches as a permanent solution just a temporary one until other accommodation can be found. We all agree this is a big problem for this town so think outside the box . At the end of the day these are human beings we are talking about.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Small town lover
6 March 2020 12:23 pm

“… so think outside the box.”

Ok. so I think since you proposed the idea of churches, you should be able to take your power of persuasion to convince two or three of the many local churches to put up people overnight. It would be a small effort and may people would be grateful to you.

At the end of the day these are human beings we are talking about.

Yes, they are, and there are other human beings with enough generosity to take them in from a couple nights to sleep on their couch and provide a hot beverage. That’s the least one human could do for another. I’m not that great at unbridled empathy, but perhaps you are.

Bill Thompson
Reply to  Small town lover
6 March 2020 2:26 pm

I’m surprised that there appears to be no investigating the utilization of Sidbrook Correctional Centre solving the problem be it temporarily or full time..
It definitely has the facilities, capabilities ,staff, security ,location.yet no mention of it.

sandpiper
Reply to  Bill Thompson
6 March 2020 4:25 pm

I think its the perfect location and property
but I think the powers to be think these unfortunate have wrights and are entitled to a night at the Woodlawn Play by the social rules or loose those wrights

Bill Thompson
Reply to  Bill Thompson
6 March 2020 5:35 pm

Correction…..Make that Brookside

Leweez
Reply to  Bill Thompson
6 March 2020 7:51 pm

Hello Bill,
That is a provincial institution that deals with convicted felons, it is not a flop house for our local crackheads.
That is, unless you want to pay extra for that.

Mrs.J.
Reply to  Leweez
6 March 2020 8:03 pm

Yes, Brookside is a Provincial institution BUT that huge facility, has been operating with just a handful (6-10) young offenders at a time for several years now. So much $$$ spend for such a few! Surely, those “felons” could be
sent to elsewhere locations, and Brookside could be “changed” into an opioid treatment centre. Perhaps the “powers that be” could convince Dougie and his cronies that such a facility is direly needed in this province.

Leweez
Reply to  Mrs.J.
6 March 2020 8:08 pm

Ha, ya maybe such a facility is direly needed in Ontario.
Now go tell your neighbours that you want to bring every crackhead in Ontario to their hometown!!!
I’m sure they will be impressed

Mrs.J.
Reply to  Leweez
6 March 2020 8:13 pm

Your comment is just sad proof of so much NIMBYISM that exists in our society.

Leweez
Reply to  Mrs.J.
6 March 2020 8:20 pm

Get off your high horse sister.
Open up your front door if you are so concerned

Johanne
Reply to  Leweez
8 March 2020 9:53 am

People dont understand what real troubles are.Blabbing with the police is not a solution, but a band aid solution to the naive. Bicycles and more watching won’t clean up the real mess. This police project is to prouve the real failure to the other decision makers not on board yet. It’s a study.. they are percolating ☕… but Kingston ( mental division) hospital will tell them otherwise. People cant learn here, others refuse to learn and the majority are proud of it Leweez. 🗣

Bill Thompson
Reply to  Leweez
6 March 2020 8:22 pm

As I mentioned in my original suggestion a month or so ago,I didn’t know much about.it other than the fact that it’s a large place very under utilized and as you point out at taxpayer cost.

I thought it could be possibly be used somehow to help locally with this seemingly present out of control situation as I’m sure it must be costing us a fair bit of tax money as is for minimal use
Maybe the provincial//county /municipality could come to an arrangement somehow as it appears that the situation as it stands is going nowhere fast and likely to keep getting worse.

Nothing ventured ,nothing gained.and no answer unless the question is asked.

Leweez
Reply to  Bill Thompson
6 March 2020 8:32 pm

I hear what you are saying Bill, but, how often can 3 different levels of government ever agree on an issue?

Frenchy
Reply to  Wally Keeler
6 March 2020 1:54 pm

“Perhaps the churches in Rosedale or Thornhill provide such services.”

Wouldn’t those churches have to go through the same onerous hoops?
and…
Why single out those 2 communities?

Johanne
Reply to  Frenchy
6 March 2020 2:26 pm

sharing the wealth doesnt mean to call everyone a “comrade” like a good fascist and let them in your living room. Rosedale is very protective of the same rules.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Frenchy
6 March 2020 4:50 pm

They have a wealthier budget to maintain operations. The churches in Cobourg are straining to maintain their existence; and cannot afford the expense of providing an ad hoc overnight service.

Leweez
Reply to  Wally Keeler
6 March 2020 7:57 pm

Wally, maybe you would be willing to pay a little extra on your property taxes or donate to work midnights at a local church to care for these less fortunate? That is, as long as your full time job does not require you to work midnights?

Johanne
Reply to  Leweez
7 March 2020 8:10 am

Very good Leweez ! Working Wally! Good luck! You are making an interesting point Leweez . THIS IS THE CRUZ. Some of us are paying over 6,000. and more In yearly property taxes. I believe others are part of the system and they enjoy the ride. ■ So devaluating for them is meaningless ■ and this is where part of my money walks with the police coffee shop, to calm them down… as lobbyist… instead of being on patrol. So a lot of this conversation are with people who are not equal partners. We dont have the same idea on spending because we dont bring as much. This is a fact. The second fact is to find where in the structure should we stop this problem. Here it is. Context and proposed Solution : There is a place to live for everyone in this huge country, to live in peace, but not next to a dump, an alambic, a grease truck, a flop house, an ex convict cartel, a detox center,a nuclear research, etc… this seem to be rocket science for a lot of people in this chat room, but ● THE PLANNING DEPARTMENT ● yes ! the people RESPONSIBLE… Read more »

Frenchy
Reply to  Wally Keeler
6 March 2020 8:09 pm

You know the financial disposition of the churches in Rosedale, Thornhill and Cobourg?
How?

Johanne
Reply to  Wally Keeler
7 March 2020 12:12 pm

The majority of churches are closing. They are dying fast or they will revive with people who will choose them. Not the other way around.

No bed in, or sheltering are allowed anymore for that category of buildings.. Churches will have to close down faster without insurance coverage. REMEMBER Underwriters have pockets no heart. We live in a capitalist system. Now a solution is proposed from a local kind business contractor .Your council has an obligation to custom make your needs for you. It means the distribution of our common wealth will benefit better all of us. This is good business and humanitarian decision making. The new problem you discovered is misery, (like in Les Misérables) different than poverty chatting with the cops on my dimes and a social plague.

Johanne
Reply to  Small town lover
6 March 2020 10:03 am

Insurance companies are not covering liabilities originating from the homeless anymore. Underwriters are not looking at this issue the same way you do. Neigbouring properties, especially large ones to churches are affected by insurance coverage as private properties with even more rules, such as fences and cameras, etc.. $ it is not cheap living close to poverty.

Johanne
Reply to  Small town lover
6 March 2020 10:49 am

Small town lover this is a crisis. Underwriters won’t provide coverage to building owners taking the responsibilities of sheltering drug addicts anymore.

This responsibility should go back to the decision maker who dump it on you ! Do they care? ASK THEM? Do they share your feelings? They are knowledgeable on insurance capacities more than you… remember that. ( no hard feelings here). They didn’t have to rubberstamp it on you. Turn the problem around because you are devaluated as a property owner, will pay more taxes for protection you won’t be guaranteed for. This is why people live in gated communities but not next to an open garden of druggies.

A solution is proposed, that would be more than the happy solution for 85% of us, so keep asking and if they decline it hit them with an ultimatum.

Mrs. Anonymous
Reply to  Small town lover
6 March 2020 1:19 pm

A church in Bancroft tried that this past winter. Unfortunately they were overwhelmed with demand and had to close.

cornbread
Reply to  Small town lover
6 March 2020 4:01 pm

I wonder how many open beds there are at the beautiful jail site at the east end of Cobourg. I’m sure they have lots of space available and could possibly teach various trades to interested persons during the day.

sandpiper
Reply to  cornbread
6 March 2020 4:30 pm

provide baths , hair cuts , help etc etc

Lyle
6 March 2020 9:03 am

It looks like all the police action is focused on the downtown core but what about this speeding problem around town, maybe spend a few bucks on radar units and enforcement control

sandpiper
6 March 2020 8:46 am

I remember Cobourg back in the day 70s and I can tell you a special Constable was one you did not want to be spotted by especially out side the British Plaza or Chateau Hotels the Police officers were much bigger
back then but they could sure help out when required

perplexed
6 March 2020 8:21 am

Booze , Beer, Opioids , or just plain old PUBLIC INTOXICATION in the old days
paint it any colour you like ist still a form of Drunk and disorderly Some people used to drink to forget their problems / or just over do it before opioids Deal with it !
Enough with this Their special or they have an Illness we all have problems
charge them once , twice , three times your out and forced to have real help and not at a spa

abby
Reply to  perplexed
6 March 2020 8:42 am

Perplexed
It is obvious you just don’t get it…any of it. Do some reading, ask some questions so that you don’t continue to spew this sort of nonsense.

perplexed
Reply to  abby
6 March 2020 4:20 pm

Sorry Abby I assume your an adult I got it a long time ago my wife was a councilor in Scarborough for many yrs my daughter in law works in legal for A Children’s provincial group that I will not fully name and I have brought several rehabs to life
We certainly see the effects on children, families and community
Rules are simple don’t do any thing to excess or thats illegal including driving to fast
self indulgence
is ones personal choice and control if its out of control seek help its not everyone else’s
burden to carry for the afflicted

Johanne
Reply to  abby
8 March 2020 10:35 am

The real problem is ignorance. No matter what explanations are, perplexed is not interested in learning.

Johanne
Reply to  perplexed
6 March 2020 10:08 am

I agree with you ,perplexed. Your heart is at the right place, so is your mind. This era is not acting well with VICTIMS. And we are paying a huge bill as victims !

Johanne
Reply to  perplexed
6 March 2020 11:29 am

Perplexed, Cobourg has its history on oboe jungle, but this recent one on rehabilitation dumped on all of us is a bit much. People in Cobourg put up with too much. The town is all about to control you all, yes, they know you will go around the problem, they are serving you another problem, THEIRS with a cup of coffee! 💲

A number of people non blogger can see it with their eyes wide shut.

Kyle
5 March 2020 10:19 pm

E-Reporting = don’t care, no followup, don’t bother us,

BUT we will be riding around on our new toy ebikes until the next public relations event, photo opp,

We = a bunch of volunteers and special constables dressed up to look like police who really can’t do anything but call for help. Oh, but they can E-Report if they see a crime.

Johanne
5 March 2020 10:18 pm
JimT
Reply to  Johanne
6 March 2020 7:37 am

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Johanne
Reply to  Johanne
6 March 2020 10:36 am

Many weaknesses from our police services, I observed. They don’t have to tell you the truth. Being friendly for them is a way of putting you on board. I won’t say more.

Observer
Reply to  Johanne
6 March 2020 11:50 am

So what do you suggest Johanne? Be unfriendly? My late cousin was a police officer in Toronto. He cared about the citizens he undertook to “Serve and Protect”. There was nothing artificial about him. His colleagues referred to his as the gentle giant. I am sure many police officers here are just as sincere.

Johanne
Reply to  Observer
6 March 2020 2:35 pm

I also have cousins police officers. You dont have to be friendly or unfriendly with them. Their orders come from above. They are STAFF, please remember! You pay them top dollars and they are not social workers. Safety is a big budget item in a town. Try to observe Observer, not interfere. You are doing well. This is full of common sense. There is nothing wrong by taking a safe distance apolitical from them.This is your right as a citizen. They are actually motivated at this moment to give themselves thumbs up, and make you feel guilty if you keep your views cold, or be an independent thinker. ( political influenza)

(Glad your family members were as great as mine 👮‍♂️👮‍♀️)

Observer
Reply to  Johanne
6 March 2020 3:56 pm

How am I interfering Johanne? Two posts – one you spoke there needs to be no communication between police and community. To police it one must know their community, there are many judgement calls. Two I suggested the people blogging with many posts on the subject should attend, listen and give their input when the Town decides to hold the Opioid Summit which they have stated will come but is delayed. Where did I suggest the police were social workers?

Observer
Reply to  Observer
6 March 2020 3:59 pm

Johanne – my father was a bartender. He was also not a social worker. He did his job seriously. Part of which was being alert to what was going on in the bar, knowing his clients and paying attention period. Along with that though he did look after his customers and in another way he served and protected just like the police do when working with the public, with knowledge of the people they serve.

Johanne
Reply to  Observer
6 March 2020 4:07 pm

Bravo!

Johanne
Reply to  Observer
8 March 2020 10:41 am

Information is not knowledge.

Johanne
Reply to  Observer
6 March 2020 4:06 pm

Friendly doesn’t mean to be familiar. It takes research and courage to be in charge of your opinions.I express my opinions liberally and independently.

Observer
Reply to  Johanne
6 March 2020 4:11 pm

Johanne – so am I. See you at the summit I presume? Bravo??? He was a good bartender – older ladies I know liked the place he worked – said you could go in have a nice evening and if some man bothered them with unwanted attentions the staff advised them to move along. They kept a lead pipe behind the bar in case a customer should go berserk – they worked as a team. In all the years they never had to use it. Very difficult customers were handled by the bartenders before they could harm anyone and shown the door, remembered and shown the door again should they try and make an appearance again. Part of knowing your surroundings. It was no bucket of blood where anything went.

Johanne
Reply to  Observer
6 March 2020 4:15 pm

I have the misfortune of pain while walking. I may not be able to go to this meeting.i hope in a briefing..

Observer
Reply to  Johanne
6 March 2020 4:16 pm

Take a taxi then.

Johanne
Reply to  Observer
6 March 2020 4:18 pm

I am bedridden at the moment with pain. Thank you for your sollicitude.

Observer
Reply to  Johanne
6 March 2020 4:21 pm

If I believe that one – there’s a bridge in Brooklyn I hear that’s up for sale! They also had what they called annoyance customers – could you be such a one? Guess you just don’t have anything else to do but blog here. You can’t be too concerned about it really if you don’t even want to express your opinion where it counts – at a meeting where decisions will be made. Glad to know you were able to make it to the beach.

Johanne
Reply to  Observer
6 March 2020 4:37 pm

You dont need protection from the police young man. You probably can help them holding the door! And kick the bad people out for them.🥊🥊🚑

Observer
Reply to  Johanne
6 March 2020 5:42 pm

Johanne – if that is the case then I truly apologize for my following remarks. Currently the Egage Cobourg site. It offers also opportunity for input. As you say you are bedridden. The input is directed to Cobourg Council reports to assist in decision making. The site contains ever changing areas to provide input. Passerby? I recall the Good Samitan in the news in Hamilton who went to assistance. God rest his soul.

Johanne
Reply to  Observer
8 March 2020 10:58 am

You are bold, and cruel. If you are a humanitarian you need to change your narcissistical boyish attitude.

Informed
Reply to  Johanne
9 March 2020 12:12 am

Yes you do. You just have too many

Johanne
Reply to  Observer
8 March 2020 10:39 am

☕🚨☕🚨 not The Solution…

Johanne
Reply to  Observer
8 March 2020 10:53 am

Dont be so gullible.

Johanne
Reply to  Johanne
8 March 2020 10:37 am

People dont like to see what is real. Not a town dedicated to woman either. Lots of predators.

ben
5 March 2020 5:54 pm

When will the Chief call out the passersby in the donut store yesterday during the assault of the student, for their inaction?

Wally Keeler
Reply to  ben
6 March 2020 9:36 am

Police do not yet have the capacity to upload live streaming via 911. A senior citizen with mobility issues could not come to the rescue of the victim but could bear witness to the event by dialing 911 on their cell phone and live stream the event to the cops, but the police do not yet have the ability to receive and store such video streaming. Sigh.

The perp displayed unrestrained brutality. I wonder where this came from? Did he learn violence at home? I trust Family Services will be looking into this.

ben
Reply to  Wally Keeler
7 March 2020 9:58 am

Wally well done for touching on the crux – where did this thug get his violent tendencies from, parents/guardians and why hasn’t anybody flagged them? I notice that on another Cobourg site the owner has interviewed the mother of the victim, he should interview the mother of the assaulter!

We all know violent kids but not how to deal with them, after they are someone elses’ kids not ours. Hate to be political but expect more of these kinds of events with government cutbacks to childrens’ resources and the education system.

Priorities folks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!