Downtown division part of better community policing

Sault Ste. Marie Police Chief wants more community-minded policing.

He views the soon-to-open new police station in the city’s downtown core playing a key role to that end.

Sault Ste. Marie Police Services met with the media Tuesday outside of a gold-bricked two-storey building at the corner of Brock at Wellington Street E. It will be home this fall to Division 2, also known as SSMPS’ downtown division.

Division 2 will grow incrementally, topping out at four platoons of 16 officers when completed in three years time.

Calling it a “very significant day for the service and the community, Stevenson said he agrees with Mayor Matthew Shoemaker that the downtown is crucial to the success of the city going forward.

Stevenson says he’s been asked several times in the past year about a lack of police presence in the downtown core.

“We’re there,” said Stevenson. “But it wasn’t enough.”

“I’ve been in this industry 37 years and as we become modernized that was supposed to make us more efficient and it has,” Stevenson told reporters. “But the good ol’ fashioned (approach of) knowing who you’re dealing with. Knowing that person that runs that store becomes absolutely crucial to our community policing efforts and our partnerships in ensuring safety in the downtown core.”

Division 2 headquarters offers 8,000 sq. ft of space, with enough room for the division to expand operations, Stevenson said. 

Renovations are currently underway allowing SSMPS to move in this fall.

Police Services will welcome partner agencies such as Crime Stoppers and Victim Services of Algoma as renos progress.

Stevenson says five to 10 officers will typically be working out of Division 2 at any given time. In the initial stage, Traffic Services, Bicycle patrol and officers working dynamic patrol will work out of the building, located at 180 Brock. 

SSMPS will close its JUMP office, in operation at Station Mall since 2019, next month.

“Having a more significant police presence downtown was a priority in the community, so it is a priority for us,” said John Bruno, chair of the Sault Ste. Marie Police Services Board. 

“This is the first step and we’ll continue to push towards that goal. We remain committed to community safety and well being and will explore every opportunity to enhance it.”

SSMPS has a 10-year lease agreement for the space with The Rector and Wardens of St. Luke’s Cathedral Sault Ste. Marie and the Incorporated Synod of The Diocese of Algoma, at a cost of $80,000 annually. Division 2 will cost roughly $500,000 a year to operate.

Mayor Shoemaker, a former member of the Police Services board, says Division 2 checks a lot of boxes.

“Our police service cannot arrest its way out of the challenges we face,” said Shoemaker. But the sense of security provided by a police presence will provide innumerable benefits to our downtown core. Together, the City and Police Services must work to create a safer community. Under Chief Stevenson, we are making progress, but I acknowledge there remains a lot of work ahead of us.”

Shoemaker says the addition of Division 2 dovetails with the City’s waterfront design plans.

“This new downtown police station represents a significant step toward creating a safer downtown, where people want to spend their time at attractions and their money at local businesses.”

For Nicholas Rosset, chair of the Downtown Association, the new station is a long-anticipated blessing. He has no doubt it will provide some peace-of-mind for downtown businesses and residents.

“I’m thrilled to see the Downtown police station become a reality,” says Rosset. “Policing is one of several services our city needs to deal with some of the serious issues plaguing our city. Having a police station nearby to service a very vulnerable area is crucial to promote the success of the businesses and residents of the downtown area. 

Rosset says the relationship between the Downtown Association and the SSMPS gained strength over the past year with police officials attending DTA meetings to help resolve security concerns.

“I have to give the Chief and DTA credit, the relationship between both organizations has been strengthened recently. Queenstown’s concerns have been met with action and further work is in progress.”

Rosset said the location of Division 2 makes sense. He says he is “glad to see” SSMPS have already put up signs to display their presence.

2 thoughts on “Downtown division part of better community policing

  1. Will they ever start to rein in the ridiculous speeding problem going on daily on Bay street between East and Pim street for which there has never been any enforcement?
    They talk about laying stunt driving charges on Black road? This is just a drop in the bucket.

    Bay street sees cars and trucks, motorcycles, racing, driving at highway speeds multiple times daily because they know there is no enforcement there and that they can get away with it.
    If they only took the initiative to do the lacking enforcement their coffers would fill up quickly, and the ongoing speeding problems would surely lessen after they clipped a few of the wings of these habitual speedsters.

  2. FOOT PATROL 24/7 ! Clean up our downtown it is downright embarrassing! There are drugs in the USA but I’ve never seen the downtown in Traverse City or Petoskey run over by needles and addicts !

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