LETTER: Dufour ‘perplexed’ by Police Association allegations

SooToday received the following letter to the editor from City Council candidate Luke Dufour.

The letter below is in response to a rebuttal from Sault Ste. Marie Police Association President Joshua Teresinski who took issue with recent comments made by Dufour regarding police patrols.

Dear Mr. Teresinski,

I am perplexed by your letter and by your allegations that I have made false statements. 

Your letter outlines the exact same patrol deployment system that I discussed in my answer at the library. The patrol deployment system is determined by geography and the union contract rather than by data driven neighbourhood needs or the priorities of the Chief/Administration.

At no point did I suggest, allude to or state that emergency call responses were governed or constrained by the quadrant system.

Our community is facing significant challenges and we cannot rise to meet these challenges without questioning the way we have always done things.

We have to be willing to have civil discussions about better models of delivering critical public services. Suggesting that a patrol model based on need instead of geography is part of responsible governance and is not my first foray into trying to find better models to reduce pressure on your service.

The 3rd Party Parking Enforcement pilot has been useful and has kept police from having to respond to these calls while keeping any levy impact to a minimum. We need to keep working to ensure that police are not being pulled away from the jobs that only an officer can do.

Your letter mentions another point worth repeating. The increase in mental health calls in our community that are taxing you and your peers in a critical front line public service and your sense of political detachment from that important fact.

These are real and valid concerns that I share with you. Our community is in a health care crisis and it is one that, despite your valiant efforts, we cannot police our way out of. 

We desperately need a higher standard of treatment, mental health care, housing and social services in this community. Too many times I talk to other front line officers who [are] at their wits end with where to bring folks in a state of mental health crisis. Much of my work in reforming our shelter system actually began with a tip from a front line officer at the SSMPS. 

In order for you and your members to be sustainable and successful officers in the face of this health care crisis in our community, we are going to have to work together.

We are going to have to work together to develop models of service that are efficiently meeting the needs of our neighbourhoods, and we are going to have to work together to adequately fund all of the services that play a role in responding to the mental health crisis that we face. 

I appreciate your passion, your service and your dedication. I hope my position is clearer and would welcome any opportunity to further discuss these issues.

All the best,
Luke Dufour