Windsor police POP Unit being kept busy during the pandemic
An increase in arrests by the Windsor Police Problem Oriented Policing Unit or POP Unit.
Between January and September of this year, 554 arrests have been made, compared to 451 during the same time in 2020.
When it started in 2018, the 12 officers in the POP Unit were focused on downtown crime, but today, Deputy Chief Jason Bellaire says the unit is now one of the busiest groups of officers, with the focus now on sustained crime problems in neighbourhoods right across the city.
Bellaire says while the POP Unit does work on crime suppression issues, they've learned that repeated arrests will not make certain issues go away and work very hard to connect people with the services they need, which includes those facing homelessness, substance abuse or mental health issues.
"They have a lot of drive toward that strategy to try and get people to get the assistance," he says.
Bellaire notes that while arrests are up, he believes what you're seeing is a return to pre-pandemic levels in terms of arrests and call volumes.
"There is a place for law enforcement, there is a place for that team to make arrests when required, but I think we have learned our lesson as an industry at this point that the underlying issues and the real drivers of crime are the things we need to look at when applying these strategies," he says.
Bellaire says they're a valuable unit because they deal with people very well.
"They're there to enforce the law, they're there to make communities safe. Even some of the problems some neighbourhoods might have that they consider smaller problems, time permitting, the POP Unit will go and invest some time and effort to alleviate that neighbourhood of that problem."
The POP Unit has even been relied on to address certian COVID-19 related issues during the pandemic, including monitoring activites like protests to ensure everyone is safe.