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Bicycle security patrols suggested for downtown back alleys

Private security firm has recently collected and disposed of 300 discarded needles in Queenstown
05-11-22 Plaza work
N1 Solutions security patrols are keeping a close eye on Queenstown construction projects including the downtown plaza site shown on Wednesday, May 11, 2022

N1 Solutions Inc., recently retained by the city to provide private security downtown, has been asked to consider using bicycles during some of its overnight patrols.

"It's something you might want to consider," Paul Scornaienchi, Downtown Association vice-chair, told Sonny Spina, N1's managing director of security, at a Wednesday-night meeting of the association's board.

Spina responded that bike patrols aren't part of N1's current contract with the city, but they are within the security firm's capability.

"Probably the worst-kept secret in Sault Ste. Marie is my love for cycling," said Spina, known for his Pedals for Possibilities fundraisers in which he cycled 283 kilometres (matching his former city police badge number) over two days to raise money for United Way Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma District.

"It's certainly something I would love to see our staff get involved in as well," Spina said.

Spina attended the hybrid virtual/in-person meeting to report on N1's second month of operations in the city's core.

The city has retained N1 for a six-month pilot project, with extension options up to one year.

The Downtown Association is paying a small part of the yearly expense.

Municipal ratepayers cover the rest.

Spina reported that his security officers have collected and safely disposed of 300 needles during their downtown patrols.

During the first month, a rash of overturned and ransacked garbage bins accounted for more than 40 per cent of occurrence reports filed by N1.

That was less of a problem during the second month, he said.

Early Wednesday morning, N1 encountered an individual starting to empty garbage cans.

"They were able to move that person along. The interaction didn't allow for time to obtain ID or anything like that."

"The person was gone rather quickly," Spina said.

On Apr. 22, N1 officers made their first arrest under the city contract, locating and apprehending suspects in a vehicular break-in.

Asked about unauthorized rooftop activity downtown, Spina said he's seen no reports of that during the first two months of patrols, but was made aware of concerns earlier when N1 first started looking at the area with an eye to securing a security contract.

"I do remember in the winter when we started looking at this project, seeing footprints on the roofs of some businesses on the west side of Queen Street."

"But we haven't identified or seen anybody doing that during our patrols yet."

"That's certainly something I can tell our staff to keep an eye out for," Spina told the meeting.

Spina said he likes to see N1 security officers invited into the downtown businesses they're hired to protect.

"I absolutely love that. I think it's fantastic for people to be able to engage with people who have businesses in the downtown area."

"If you see our staff out, please feel free to engage them. They may be tied up. They may be involved in a service call that they've been dispatched to."

"It's helping us a lot. It's helping identify where some hot spots are."

Spina remarked that N1 is aware of some large construction projects getting underway downtown and the firm will be keeping an eye on those spots.

As the 2022 patio season begins, Downtown Association chair Kristi Cistaro suggested that Queen Street establishments secure their patio equipment and furnishing as much as possible after regular business hours.