Office hours at the region’s rural police detachments are now shorter, but police say quantity does not equal quality in this case, and the change is an improvement.
Though the hours of operation at the rural detachments in Elmira and New Hamburg are cut significantly, the entire rural area now operates as its own division. Thus only one location can be overseen at one time by new staff sergeant Kathy Black.“It’s a completely different role for me,” she said of overseeing two different stations.
Sgt. Black was hired for the job while working as a staff sergeant at the central Waterloo Region Police Services (WRPS) division and has been dividing her time between the stations in Elmira and New Hamburg since the new hours came into effect on January 2. The two detachments, formerly opened 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday, are now open 15 hours a week each, and Black says she is currently working on the adjustments by setting up a fluid system between the two stations.
Though the offices of the new detachment are not manned at all times there will be more policemen on the streets, with as many as six officers on duty in the rural areas at any given time plus a supervising sergeant that will patrol as well as assist on more serious calls.
WRPS deputy chief Brent Thomlinson said the change was a long time coming, ever since a study that showed how police officers tend to budget their time in their respective divisions.
“There was recognition that if a police officer’s responsibility is divided between an urban environment and a rural environment, they tend to spend all of their time in the urban environment. We recognized there was an imbalance there because even though there might be a larger demand in the urban environment there is still a need for policing in the rural areas,” he said.
Thomlinson added that the new hours at the two rural stations were chosen for greater convenience as the new schedule includes weekend and evening hours of operation.
On Mondays Black will be at the Elmira office 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and in New Hamburg from 7:30-9:30 p.m. The schedule is reversed on Tuesdays. Wednesdays the Elmira office is open 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. On Thursdays both offices are closed, re-opening in New Hamburg on Fridays 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. On Saturdays the Elmira branch is open from 7-9 a.m. and the New Hamburg branch opens 2:30-4:30 p.m. Both offices are closed on Sundays.
Thomlinson said police want to hear the public’s input on the changes and the WRPS will be passing around a survey in the near future through which residents can comment on hours of operation and provide suggestions.