It's been a busy year of growth for the Saugeen Shores Police Service; from moving into their new multi-million dollar headquarters to dealing with rising crime levels the 22 member force hasn't let the holidays slow them down.
Police Chief Mike Bellai says beyond regular duties they've held a toy and food drive and have conducted multiple RIDE programs...one taking place on Dec 23, 2019 had zero violations.
"This time of year we've stepped up our Festive RIDE programs...we do RIDE programs throughout the year but of course this time of year with Christmas Parties and New Years Eve we step up our enforcement," says the Police Chief.
He adds, "For us you work Christmas, you work New Year's, you work all the holiday's... it just depends on where your schedule falls."
During 2019 budget sessions Bellai told Bayshore Broadcasting News that by the end of 2019, police will have answered 10,350 calls for service, if not more, which is almost a 42% increase since 2017 when just over 73-hundred were answered.
Bellai says the calls are a mixture of issues such as responding to traffic accidents, to domestic abuse, child care cases, to mental health issues.
He says when it comes to mental health calls, they hope to be working with the Urgent Response Team in Grey/Bruce, which is part of Canadian Mental Health.
"We're going to collaborate and work with our urgent response team which Is part of Canadian Mental health in Grey and Bruce, so we will hopefully have a staff member from the urgent response team on site so many times a week."
A new police officer is expected on staff by May of next year, bringing its complement to 23, well below the provincial average for a municipality the size of Saugeen Shores.
The Ontario average for sworn officers per population would mean over 26 officers should be on staff given the population of the municipality.