Essex County safest place to be
September 21st, 2012:
Contains five of Canada's 10 safest cities
Essex County has five of the country's 10 safest cities, 2011 crime statistics show.
Statistic Canada's crime severity index shows Amherstburg is the safest community in Canada followed by LaSalle. Tecumseh and Lakeshore are fourth and fifth respectively and Kingsville is 10th. Essex is 15th and Leamington shot up to 36th from 77th. Windsor is the only community that declined in the rankings.
It was 149th out of 239 communities with populations of more than 10,000 people. Last year it was 144th.
The crime severity index analyzes crime statistics from communities and looks at volume of crimes, as well as the severity of crimes committed. More violent crimes are given heavier weight. The seriousness of a crime can be determined by the sentence given the offender. More serious offences have a greater impact on the index, reports Statistics Canada.
Amherstburg and LaSalle have crime, it's just not as violent as elsewhere. Neither community has had a murder in more than 13 years. The town police chiefs commend residents for making the two communities such a safe place to live.
"The people living here are warm," LaSalle Police Chief John Leontowicz said. "They are more kind and generous people. There is just not a lot of bad people. If there are, we are scaring them away."
Amherstburg Police Chief Tim Berthiaume said residents don't tolerate crime.
"It's a small town," he said. "People report strangers in their neighbourhood. They report suspicious activity."
Both police forces focus on community policing and interacting with youth and business leaders. Amherstburg has a police chief's advisory council made up of residents who give feedback to Berthiaume about police performance. LaSalle maintains a constant presence throughout the town.
"I don't think you'll find anyone who says they haven't seen a police car in a long time," Leontowicz said.
The suburban communities are safer than Windsor for simpler reasons, Windsor Deputy Chief Jerome Brannigan said. They are affluent bedroom communities with mostly residential areas. Windsor has a dense population and is a place where people, including tourists, come to work and play, Brannigan said.
"We have a significant transient population that comes from all over," he said. "Cars get broken into or people are assaulted while visiting Windsor."
Some of Windsor's violent crimes are committed by out of-town offenders. Jesse Imeson, who murdered a Windsor bartender before going on the run and killing an elderly couple in Mount Carmel in Middlesex County, was a native of Amherstburg.
A 2011 stabbing at a strip club involved a group of men from Chatham.
Windsor's no-murder streak ended last fall after 26 months. Brannigan points out that, overall, violent crimes have gone down. Nationally, the volume of crime is at its lowest point since 1972, reports Statistics Canada. Among big cities, Windsor is 10th out of 33. Over the past five years, Windsor has seen 199 fewer violent crimes against persons, such as murder, assault, rape, Brannigan said.
"When we look at crime trends, there are peaks and valleys," Brannigan said. "A significant number of our crimes are related to a high-risk lifestyle and narcotics. I think overall Windsor is a great, safe community."
Leamington jumped in the rankings because it tackled domestic violence, which OPP Detachment Commander Rick Derus said contributed to a lot of the severe crime in the area in previous years.
"We have zero tolerance for any domestic violence incident," he said. "We lay a charge. That's had a profound effect on domestic violence."
If offenders are released from jail with conditions, officers follow up and re-arrest if there are infractions.
The OPP also dedicated two officers to foot and bike patrol in town, which has resulted in fewer petty crimes and freed up officers from administrative duties to get back on the street. The town had no murder in 2012 after a string of three murders over the previous two years.
Statistics also show Ontario is the safest province and territory in the country followed by New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. The most dangerous places were Northwest Territories and Nanavut, according to the crime severity index.
The Windsor Star
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