WELLINGTON ‒ County councillors are asking for more transparency between the OPP and the public surrounding what enhanced enforcement looks like across the county.
This is in response to several questions raised during a special budget meeting in October about the effectiveness of the county's enhanced enforcement contract with the OPP and how to increase public awareness about these additional efforts.
With plans to spend $4.8 million on OPP enhancements in 2024, or approximately $116 per household, Wellington County currently has the second most uniform enhancements in the province at 22, just below Caledon at 23.
"Having an enhancement position in traffic is very beneficial not only for tickets issued but also for public awareness and education," said Inspector Steve Thomas, detachment commander for the OPP, in the report. "Increased efforts to educate the public about safe driving practices and consequences of traffic violations can influence behaviour and enforcement strategies."
According to the report, the county's enhancements help the OPP reduce unsafe driving behaviours by implementing proactive approaches to ticketing and deterrence through highly visible traffic patrols.
While the OPP said provincial offences for speeding are 34 per cent of what they were 10 years ago, they feel this is indicative of a change in behaviour through deterrence and enforcement action on their part as ticket numbers have generally decreased across the province and county.
"The OPP does not measure a successful traffic strategy solely on the number of tickets laid. Tickets alone do not make roads safer," said Thomas, in the report. "In short, decreasing the unsafe behaviour decreases the number of tickets."
But while some members of the county's Police Services Board agreed with the effectiveness of the OPP's current strategy during a meeting Wednesday morning, they asked for increased communication with the public surrounding traffic action to, at the very least, reduce some of the traffic complaints they've been receiving.
In 2022, Wellington County OPP received 2,266 traffic complaints varying from suspected impairment to speeding
"We are one of the safest communities in the country, thanks in large part to what the Opp does and that message isn't getting out there," said Warden Andy Lennox, during the meeting. "We need to keep reinforcing the fact that we do live in a safe community and here's what we're doing to keep it safe,"
County Coun. Diane Ballantyne expanded on this; stressing the importance of respectful one-on-one interactions with officers in addition to public-facing events so residents know there are officers active in their communities.
"When people feel seen, respected, heard and have the opportunity to understand why a particular situation went a certain way," said Ballantyne. "It might not resolve in the way that they would like it to but at least the public can understand why it happened that way."
Isabel Buckmaster is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for GuelphToday. LJI is a federally-funded program.