KAWARTHA LAKES-Drug and criminal charges are up significantly so far this year in the Lindsay area according to a report presented to the Kawartha Lakes Police Services Board today.
From January to the end of June 2022, police laid 576 criminal charges. During that same time period this year, police laid 822 criminal charges. That’s comparable to the 2021 numbers which Police Chief Mark Mitchell says was an anomaly year due to the pandemic.
“Our criminal charges remain quite elevated,” Mitchell stated. “I did just want to draw your attention to the fact that a large proportion of those are what we refer to as “administration of justice charges”, people that fail to comply with their court-ordered conditions, people that fail to attend court and to put it in context, in May, 29 of the 140 criminal charges were administration of justice charges, in June of the 138 charges, 50 of those were administration on justice charges.”
Just this week 28-year-old Lindsay man who was on probation was charged with a stabbing in Lindsay.
On Monday, July 17 at approximately 5:00am while out for a walk, the victim was approached by an unknown male asking for a cigarette. Police say the male became agitated, kicking and stabbing the victim before leaving the area with a second person who appeared to be waiting across the street. The injuries resulting from this incident appear to be non-life threatening.
28-year-old Michael Thomas has been charged with assault with a weapon, assault cause bodily harm and fail to comply with probation order X2. Thomas had previously been charged with a stabbing in 2020, possession of a stolen vehicle in 2020 and assault with a weapon (handgun) in 2018.
Bail reform has been something that the Ontario Chiefs of Police have been pushing for after PC Greg Pierzchala was killed in the line of duty by a man who had been released on bail.
OACP says in many cases where the accused was on pre-trial release for an allegation of violence or firearms offences, the subsequent offences were completely preventable. As Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Thomas Carrique, a member of the OACP Board of Directors, observed, “Something needs to change.” Further, the Commissioner captured the sentiments of all police members when he noted that, “Our police officers, your police officers, my police officers, the public deserve to be safeguarded against violent offenders who are charged with firearms-related offences.”
Const. Pierzchala, a member of the OPP’s Haldimand County detachment, was killed on Dec. 27 just outside of Hagersville, south of Hamilton.
He was working his first solo shift when he stopped to check out a vehicle in the ditch and was fatally shot. Randall McKenzie, 25, and Brandi Crystal Lyn Stewart-Sperry, 30, each face a charge of first-degree murder. Court documents obtained by The Hamilton Spectator at the time show McKenzie had been on bail since late June. Hamilton police arrested McKenzie in early December 2021, charging him with a total of 12 assault- and firearm-related offences, according to the documents.
“Our association has and will continue to advocate for legislative reforms, including the bail process involving violent repeat offenders and violent firearms crimes. That is why the OACP is calling on justice multi-sector partners – government, law enforcement, and justice groups – to come together in a collaborative manner to ensure that we make communities safe and keep them safe. Moreover, we also want to unequivocally state that the time for action on legislative reform is now.” said the OACP.
“There’s been a lot of discussions nationally about bail reform and that sort of issue.” Mitchell said at the meeting. “We have a lot of people that are repeatedly failing to comply with their conditions, repeatedly failing to attend court and that just increases that cycle increases the workload on our staff.”
In April the Ontario government announced an investment of $112 million to “immediately strengthen the province’s bail system and ensure that high-risk and repeat violent offenders comply with their bail conditions”.
The funding was to be used to support new technology, establish violent crime bail teams, expand the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Repeat Offender Parole Enforcement Squad and provide prosecutors with the resources they need to conduct complex bail hearings.
“As the country and our province face rising crime rates and people are feeling increasingly unsafe in their communities, this funding will help ensure anyone out on bail is following the rules and high-risk, repeat offenders are kept in jail,” said Premier Doug Ford. “We can’t have a justice system where violent criminals are arrested one day and back out on the streets the next. We’re doing our part to fix a broken bail system and look forward to working with our federal partners to finish the job.”
Canada’s premiers called for the federal government to amend the Criminal Code and implement meaningful bail reform to prevent violent and repeat offenders from being released back into communities. On May 16, 2023, the Government of Canada introduced Bill C-48 which proposes changes to the Criminal Code’s bail provisions. According to the government, Bill C-48 would make targeted changes to the Criminal Code’s bail regime to address serious repeat violent offending with firearms, knives, bear spray and other weapons. Officials say Bill C-48 also proposes changes at the bail stage to address the enhanced risks posed by intimate partner violence (IPV).
Drug charges are also up significantly in the Lindsay area this year. In the first 6 months of 2022, police laid 12 drug charges in the Lindsay area versus 43 charges in the first six months of 2023
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