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Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Owen Sound Police May Have A Small Town Edge

Owen Sound | by Claire McCormack  

Chief says knowing the community well is an advantage unique to small town crime solving.

There's the saying, that in a small town everybody knows everybody -- here, Owen Sound Police tend to know them too.

From recognizing a suspect's clothes to their mannerisms, Police Chief Craig Ambrose says, "A number of crimes get solved here, locally that I guarantee you from my past experience, wouldn't get solved outside a small town."

In a review of the past year at the most recent police board meeting, Inspector Dave Bishop remarked on the difference in how quickly crimes are solved in a community like Owen Sound compared to a larger city.

Bishop and Ambrose were both formerly members of the Waterloo Regional Police Service who joined the Owen Sound Police Service in 2019.

Ambrose says, "Coming from a big city, every day there are electronic briefing boards, there's video that goes out to everybody to look at....you look at it and it's just another face in the crowd."

When a video or picture goes out among police in the Owen Sound community, Ambrose says, "You can count the number of minutes before somebody responds in the police service, whether they're working or not, saying, "That's the individual, this is where they live and I dealt with them last week."

Ambrose says, "Sometimes it's not even the face, sometimes it's the individual's stature, the individual's shoes they recognize. There's all these different things."

Stature, mannerisms and gait, allowed officers to quickly identify a suspect in a downtown bank robbery back on January 22nd. A lone man had entered the CIBC at 2nd Avenue East and 10th Street with his face concealed by a bandana, glasses and a hood. The man allegedly had a knife and threatened the teller, directing her to quickly place money into a bag.

While much of the man was covered up, police reportedly recognized the man simply by the way he moved. Ambrose notes, officers knew where their suspect lived (not far from the bank), and shortly after the robbery occurred, the suspect, wearing what appeared to be the same clothes in the surveillance video, reportedly stepped outside where police were waiting for him.

Police say the 34 year old Chatsworth man was found in possession of stolen cash as well as other items used to commit the bank robbery.

"When it's a serious crime, there's a concerted effort by everybody involved to put their heads together and look, and gather evidence and make sure that we can make an impact," says Ambrose, "In a couple of hours, the individual was arrested, charged and everything was recovered as well."

Ambrose adds, knowing the community and being involved in the community means police can often solve even minor crimes quickly, referring to a break in and theft of power tools at the Sydenham Condominiums,"By two o'clock that afternoon, most of the tools had been recovered and the warrant was executed and everything was back."

When an unknown person had thrown a rock through the window of Bruce Grey Child and Family Services, police looked at surveillance video, which unfortunately for them, only showed the lower third of the suspect's body, but one officer was actually able to identify the suspect because they recognized their shoes.

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