Dramatic Spike In Impaired Driving Cases Locally

A shocking spike is being reported in a preventable crime here in the Upper Ottawa Valley. 

The OPP say the number of impaired driving charges they've dealt with across the Upper Ottawa Valley detachment area went up 300% in the first quarter of this year, compared to the same period last year.  

Upper Ottawa Vallley OPP Detachment Commander, Inspector Stephan Neufeld, shared the numbers at Pembroke City Council on Tuesday night as he also revealed year-end 2018 crime statistics for Pembroke, and he says it’s hard to say why it's happening.

"Is that because there are more drivers, or because we're more successful with our R.I.D.E. programs and getting these drivers off our road?", Insp. Neufeld asked when speaking with reporters outside City Council chambers.

"The only thing I can say is that this remains a priority for us", Neufeld added.

"Our officers are going to be extremely committed to traffic safety, and proactively and aggressively targeting potential impaired drivers, and getting them off the road".

Pembroke Crime Stats

Neufeld also told Pembroke City Council last night that in 2018, the number of violent crimes and property crimes reported in the city were down, while the number of drug possession cases was up.

He says they've also been able to reduce the number of false 911 calls that are tying up officers and wasting important resources, thanks to a targeted move in Pembroke.

An investigation revealed that more than 100 false calls over a period of a few years came from a payphone bank in the Pembroke Mall, and Neufeld says they've worked with mall management to remove the phone bank, and with it, that portion of the false call problem.

He says management made sure there were ways for people who need to contact services such as taxis to have phone access, and they believe the removal of the payphones will help reduce the nuisance and wasteful calls.

The problem with hangup 911 calls is that they are classified as an "unknown" emergency, requiring two officers to respond to a situation that could potentially be a serious emergency, despite the fact that they're often nuisance prank calls.

Neufeld also told council that policing is evolving from a "reactive" approach to a more proactive approach, involving more of the community in discussions surrounding ways to eliminate the root causes of crimes and social problems.

He says police are providing input to the new "Community Safety and Well-Being Plans" that the province has ordered municipalities to come up with by the end of next year.