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New downtown crimefighters to be armed with phone apps

New initiative is expected to include both walking and bike patrols
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The Sault's on-again, off-again downtown street patrols are expected to re-commence next month, Sault Ste. Marie Crime Stoppers announced Wednesday night.

"When we put this together, all of a sudden you're going to see the yellow jackets on the road again," Crime Stoppers chair Tom Burmaster told a Downtown Association meeting.

Volunteer street patrols have patrolled the city's core for most of the past seven years but the program was ceased last year.

Burmaster and local Crime Stoppers co-ordinator Kendra Addison have assembled a partnership including the Downtown Association, Sault College and the local campus of Gates College.

The new initiative is expected to include both walking and bike patrols with students from police foundations and other college-level programs

Police Chief Hugh Stevenson has asked that the patrols resume July 1.

"We're trying to get it off the ground sooner than later," Burmaster said.

The students will patrol four blocks of the city's core, north-south, from river to rail yards.

"They are instructed they are not to get involved. They are eyes and ears. You see something happening, you get on the phone and you call 911."

"We don't want them to get involved in any altercation with anyone. We don't want them getting hurt," Burmaster said.

Addison said the volunteers will use cell phones equipped with special apps that allow them to file reports, take crime-scene photos and log their travels between designated checkpoints.

Interested business will be able to buy window decals displaying QR codes to be scanned by the student patrollers.

"We want to be able to put those window decals in areas downtown and then those students are expected to check in at these checkpoints," Addison said.

"That's the return on investment for the Downtown Association members, is that having our codes in their window, we know our students are going to stop by that address."

"It'll track where they are and that they've been at that business as they were out patrolling, Addison said.

She hopes to have as many as three pairs of students working the downtown at a time.

Burmaster told Downtown Association directors that the three most important innovations in modern policing are fingerprinting, DNA and Crime Stoppers.

"You put those three together and all of a sudden you've got pretty well all the answers that you're looking for."

The Downtown Association will now survey its members to determine what times are best for street patrols.


David Helwig

About the Author: David Helwig

David Helwig's journalism career spans six decades beginning in the 1960s. His work has been recognized with national and international awards.
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