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MTC jail responsible for community’s crack increase?

Crack-cocaine use increases thanks to jail: police chief
Janis Leering:
The Mirror
Sept. 29, 2004

Midland police are cracking down on criminals who are bringing crack cocaine into the community.

At Monday night's council meeting, Midland Police Chief Paul Hamelin told council the prevalence of crack cocaine in the community is on the rise, and he attributed it to the Penetanguishene jail.

"Our intelligence officer reports that we are beginning to see a correlation between criminal activity in our community, and the Central North Correctional Centre," said Hamelin.

Through investigating cases of crack cocaine and other drugs in the community, Hamelin has been in contact with officers in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), and said they have been able to trace some of those cases back to the jail.

With the jail serving a large area, including Toronto, it gives local criminals a chance to form relationships with people throughout the province, he said.

Hamelin said he never guessed crime within Midland would be on the increase as a result of the jail, which opened in 2001.

"This is not something we anticipated with the jail. In the beginning, there were more concerns of (inmates) moving to this area, much like you see in the federal system."

Hamelin said he was unsure if this will be a continuing trend, or if it's a 'hit and miss' situation.

"We are trying to keep on top of it, and have asked our officers to track whether they have seen a direct correlation to the jail, and we are also looking for ways to counter it."

He said by tracking the numbers, police will learn just how much local crime is being affected by the jail.

Coun. Judy Contin was surprised with the report, and suggested someone from Midland become more involved with the jail's monitoring committee. "Whether it's our chief, or a member of council, we should have direct information coming to us," said Contin.

Hamelin told her Midland police is working with OPP officers at the jail to stay informed about various situations.

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