Police show reporter the rounds

Amanda Jess
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Most nights are tame, major incidents rare in New Glasgow

NEW GLASGOW – I wasn’t sure what I should expect while heading out on a police ride-along on a Thursday night of the long weekend.

The News decided to set up the ride following a spree of high-profile incidents in the fall of 2013 as well as Money Sense Magazine’s negative rankings of New Glasgow, which include the crime rate.

While setting it up, Const. Ken MacDonald with the New Glasgow Regional Police Service told me they were preparing for higher volumes of students due to the Easter holiday and the Roseland Cabaret’s opening after a long winter.

The night began with a tour of their headquarters on Park Street.

We started in the lobby where the police service holds onto pieces of history such as radios the size of bricks and the first radar gun.

“We like to show the evolution of policing,” MacDonald said, noting that the improvement of technology has played a huge role in efficient policing.

The invention of GPS is a large part of modern policing with each vehicle equipped with tracking technology to ensure dispatchers can see where each officer is in relation to a reported crime.

Intoxilyzers are another important feature, furthering the accuracy of testing whether a driver is impaired, a crime that the New Glasgow police take a strong stance against.

Intoxilyzers only test for alcohol. Police also use a number of manual motor function tests when determining whether someone is impaired by drugs.

MacDonald showed off many of these pieces of technology, various offices for the 10 specialized units, interview rooms, dispatch, six cells, the file room and where evidence is stored.

Six officers and one dispatcher were on duty as part of B-platoon with Sgt. Blair Bannerman leading the overnight shift.

The dispatcher is responsible for two emergency lines, one administration line, 911 calls, and four fire departments.

Before heading out, I was suited up with a bullet “resistant” vest. The vest added a few extra pounds to my body, but it was more than manageable.

Working with a police utility belt would be a lot more difficult to master.

I briefly tried on Bannerman’s full belt including a pistol, knife, baton, two sets of handcuffs, ammunition, a radio, and pepper spray.   

“We’re well prepared,” Bannerman said. The belt adds an extra 25 pounds, making running more difficult. Bannerman noted that it required special care getting in and out of vehicles as well. 

I also briefly experienced being locked up as the key to the cell hung within view.

That would get boring in a hurry.

While I was on the tour of the building, two officers were called to a possible street-racing incident in Trenton.

As we hit the road, we headed first to Trenton while MacDonald discussed the differences in policing for different areas.

He explained that hotspot areas, such as downtown New Glasgow on a weekend, are patrolled more often as a reactive and reduction measure while areas that are prone to loitering and vandalism require a proactive approach.

He cited New Glasgow Academy as an example of a proactive approach, stating that the school is being designed in such a way to discourage vandalism, such as windows that aren’t easily broken and strategically placed lights and cameras.

MacDonald noted that during festivals, they’ll decide how to staff based on tickets sold and the crowds expected, especially if beer gardens are involved.

Heading back to New Glasgow, we stopped at The Thistle Bar and Grill where police had handed down a fine for a liquor control act violation of illegal possession.

As we drove behind vehicles in New Glasgow, MacDonald talked about some of the signs of an impaired driver: inconsistent speeds, swerving, driving at night without lights, and straddling the centre line.

Throughout the night, he pulled two vehicles over – one with lights off and another for suspected illegal possession involving a passenger.

We also watched speeds from both the moving and stationary radar.

Most of the police vehicles are equipped with moving radar, with some to be installed soon.

The moving radar tracks both approaching and retreating vehicles when the ignition is on.

I got to test the stationary radar on a few cars on East River Road, who were all obeying traffic speeds.

After doing several loops of New Glasgow and Trenton, it was almost time to call it a night.

The largest incident of the evening involved a disorderly male calling 911 twice, a cab driver calling the police about the same male for a disturbance – before arrest of the male at the Roseland Cabaret resulting in a charge of public intoxication. 

During a five-hour period from 10 p.m. until 3 a.m., the radio in the police car picked up calls mostly relating to liquor control act violations.

The night painted a picture of a very tame town crime-wise, echoing an earlier statement from MacDonald that major crimes are isolated incidents, despite an incident that saw thousands of dollars worth of vandalism two nights later.



On Twitter: @NGNewsAmanda

Organizations: New Glasgow Regional Police Service, New Glasgow Academy, The Thistle Bar

Geographic location: New Glasgow, Park Street, Trenton East River Road

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