Tackling domestic violence priority for Orillia OPP in 2017

Local detachment partnering with Lakehead University to better understand root causes

Orillia Today
By Frank Matys
Combating incidents of domestic violence will be a key focus for Orillia’s OPP detachment in 2017.
“We have a humongous number of them, and that is concerning,” Insp. Pat Morris said.
According to figures provided to the city’s police board, OPP officers responded to 74 domestic incidents in October, the most recent period for which figures were available.
“That is more than two every day,” Morris said, adding close to a third of the calls resulted in criminal charges.
“We have a humongous number of them, and that is concerning”: Insp. Pat Morris
So prevalent is the problem that the detachment has partnered with Lakehead University to research incidents of domestic violence, which involve an intimate partner.
These calls can range from an assault resulting in criminal charges to a loud argument between a husband and wife that prompts a neighbour to contact police.
“(Lakehead’s) research team reviews the domestic occurrences and tries to understand, ‘What’s the root problem here? What’s the commonality and what is the outcome, and what are the steps that are working to try and prevent this?’” Morris said, adding violence in the home has ripple effects impacting all family members.
“A big one that hardly anybody talks about is truancy from school,” he noted. “How much does a 13-year-old feel like going to school the day after mom and dad got in a big (fight).”
Of 28 assaults reported to police in October, half were familial in nature.
“I believe that the circumstances within a home are the No. 1 growth area for criminal activity and social disruption in our city,” Morris said.
Police are working to address the problem proactively through a recently developed situation table that connects individuals with community agencies specializing in a range of issues, including mental health, employment and housing.
While the effort is yielding positive results, Morris said he is hoping for greater involvement by local organizations.
“I believe we could increase our referrals significantly because we have enough people that are in need of the services,” he said.
Elsewhere in his most recent report, Morris noted sexual assaults were up by approximately nine per cent as of the end of October when compared with the same period last year.
“We are finding that a large percentage of sexual assaults are historical in nature,” he said. “Unlike some of the other crimes, these are victims who are walking in and talking about sexual assault that happened a long time ago, so we have very little ability to impact those numbers.”
Frank Matys is a reporter for Orillia Today. You can reach him at fmatys@simcoe.com . Follow Orillia Today on Twitter and Simcoe.com on Facebook