Highlights from Police Board Meeting: Homecoming, Hate Crimes and Surplus

It was a relatively brief October meeting for the Guelph Police Services Board, but there were some interesting details revealed in the course of the virtual conference. There was an update about hate crime stats in the city, plus some reporting about police actions during Safe Semester and Homecoming last month. Also, what’s the latest about the police budget for this year, and next? Continue reading “Highlights from Police Board Meeting: Homecoming, Hate Crimes and Surplus”

U of G Students Move In This Weekend, and Safe Semester Begins!

You know fall is close when the students return to the University of Guelph. This weekend, it might be best for you to avoid this particular stretch of Gordon Street because over 5,000 students will be moving in to their dorms, and the U of G admin has some notes for them and the greater Guelph community. Meanwhile, the City of Guelph is looking to next weekend, and the start of the annual Safe Semester program. Continue reading “U of G Students Move In This Weekend, and Safe Semester Begins!”

This Week in Press Releases – August 25-September 1, 2017

Every week, the City of Guelph and other groups send out notices to announce new events, imperatives, and information that you need to know. Here is this week in press releases. Continue reading “This Week in Press Releases – August 25-September 1, 2017”

First Week of Safe Semester (Mostly) an Improvement Over Last

The Guelph Police Service has released the statistics from the first weekend of this year’s Safe Semester program. By and large they show an improvement over last, but some of you just can’t stop yourselves from parking where you shouldn’t, or peeing where you shouldn’t. Continue reading “First Week of Safe Semester (Mostly) an Improvement Over Last”

Back to School Tips – Renting, Transit and Safe Semester

It’s Back to School time here in Guelph and other places, but for the Royal City there are a couple of important changes to make note of, and some new rules to keep in mind as we start the real new year, post-Labour Day. Continue reading “Back to School Tips – Renting, Transit and Safe Semester”

Nightlife and Safe Semester a “Evolution of the Process” Says Guelph Police

Following up on last week’s Guelph Politicast podcast, I sought out the perspective of someone that represents one of the most important members of the Nightlife Task Force, the Guelph Police Service. Garry Male, an inspector with the Guelph Police Service, has been a part of the Nightlife Task Force off and on for five years, and he thinks that as compared to how things used to be handled downtown on bar nights, there’s been a big improvement over the last several years.

“I think it’s an evolution,” Male explained. “Originally, we tried different things to deal with the crowds, and some things worked like the way we patrolled the downtown with supplemental staffing. What happened was all these community stakeholders got together, and it was at that point this wasn’t just viewed as a policing problem.”

The Nightlife Task Force is made up of the bar owners, the Downtown Guelph Business Association, Guelph Transit, the University of Guelph, the Central Student Association, the City of Guelph, and city council. With upwards of 7,000 seats open for revelry on a nightly basis, that’s a lot of people and problems to manage, and Male said that the task force discovered that they each had a hand in created solutions. “Everybody go together and tackled the issues one by one to see what could be done about them,” he said pointing to the deployment of port-a-potties and negotiating late night buses as two of the improvements made.

“From a policing perspective, our patrolling has changed in that we now deploy pretty much 90 per cent of our people on foot,” added Male. “With that we looked at street closures, and that allowed everyone to move around freely in more space with less jostling, but it also opened up clear lines of sight so our officers could identify problems very quickly, and intervene very early.”

Intervening early is key because the police watch how and where their time is allocated; if they can stop a fight or an accident early it means less time taking people into custody, or worse, taking them to the hospital. All that data is collected by the police to further amend and refine the annual plans for Safe Semester. “We do keep statistics on things such as intoxication arrests, liquor enforcement, by-law enforcement, also things like impaired driving, assaults and what-not,” Male said. “Statistically, we’ve been doing better and better each year in those categories. We’ve gotten to the point where it’s working very well.”

Also working well, said Male, is the police coverage of the whole city. Of course the busiest areas are in the core, but there are other licensed establishments spread out around town, and, of course, private parties to consider. “We change the hours of work for some our staffing,” explained Male. “We have an afternoon shift that would normally be split into early afternoon and late afternoon, but during Safe Semester they’re all late afternoon, and we deploy them in the downtown core.Then our night shift, our regular patrol, is still patrolling the rest of the city. We also utilize our tactics and rescue unit downtown to patrol downtown as well.”

Response though is just part of the Safe Semester philosophy. While September is the busiest month for traffic in the Downtown Entertainment District, Male said it’s also making sure both returning and new students know what’s acceptable and what’s unacceptable. “It’s also setting the tone,” he said. “There are thousands of first year students that come in, and it sort of gives them the lay of the land and what the expectations are as well.”

As for the Safe Semester prep for the coming year, Male said that they’ve pretty much down to a science. “As far as the overall plan with transit, portable washrooms, and the taxi stands, everything’s going to be the same this year as it was last year,” he said. “We’re really not tweaking too much at all.”

“What we have tweaked, for example, is in previous years we’ve use street closures for Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, and last year, we narrowed that down to just Friday and Saturday nights,” he added. “We’re sticking with that this year, and we’re going to do four weekends in a row.”

GUELPH POLITICAST #46 – Nightlife Task Force

It’s coming! Or rather, They’re coming! Back to School time will soon be upon us, and along with heading back to the books, the classes, the seminars, the study sessions, and the seemingly never-ending stream of projects, essays, and reports, the students of the University of Guelph will soon be coming back… to party! That may be an over-generalization, but it’s also true that Downtown Guelph is going to get very busy again on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. This is where the Nightlife Task Force comes into play. Continue reading “GUELPH POLITICAST #46 – Nightlife Task Force”

Police Release Safe Semester Stats from Homecoming Weekend

Homecoming weekend is always the pinnacle of the annual downtown Safe Semester program, the busiest of the busy first few weeks of the fall semester. The City, the Police, and the University walk into a bar have gone to great pains over the last couple of years to make this as smooth an adjustment as possible for the People. So how did they do this past weekend? Continue reading “Police Release Safe Semester Stats from Homecoming Weekend”

Safe Semester Kicks Off Next Weekend

From some it’s a return to normalcy, for others its the deafening end to a precious few months of peace and quiet. However you see the start of a new school year, it’s beginning again this weekend, and the city is responding to the influx with the implementation of the Safe Semester Program. Taken for a test drive last year and deemed a success, the program makes a comeback with one small change, and the hopes that the weekend flock to pub row downtown is run as smooth as humanly possible (given that many of those humans are deeply inebriated). Continue reading “Safe Semester Kicks Off Next Weekend”