Don’t tell Bill Iggulden crime is down in his neighbourhood.
Police released statistics Wednesday showing Windsor is similar to the rest of the country, with an overall decline in crime rates. But in the Drouillard Road area, Mr. Iggulden’s home for 33 years, he said the drug dealers, addicts, prostitutes and violence are still prevalent on the often rough and tumble streets.
“In a way, they control the neighbourhood, the bad ones,” said Mr. Iggulden, 49, a security guard who also helps out at a methadone clinic and volunteers with New Song Church. “There’ve been stabbings, there’s been beatings, murders.”
Statistics Canada reported Wednesday that Canada’s crime rate dropped another three per cent last year, to its lowest point in 25 years. Windsor’s crime rate ranked 10th among 18 cities with populations between 100,000 and 499,999. Our city had 6,754 Criminal Code violations per 100,000 people.
Windsor police also said Wednesday that crime here was down 12 per cent in the first half of 2007 compared to last year.
But some crimes were on the rise, including drug offences, which increased from 28 in June 2006 to 53 last month. There were 294 drug charges in the first half of 2007, compared to 261 for the same period last year.
Where there are drugs, said Staff Sgt. Ed McNorton, you’ll often find guns.
“We’re seeing it more frequently,” he said. “That combination is a deadly one. It is a great concern to us.”
Sgt. McNorton said the police service’s recently restructured guns and drugs unit is having success. He pointed to an arrest Wednesday night on Tecumseh Road East, where police seized a package with $17,000 in cash, 14 packages of suspected cocaine and a loaded handgun.
“We’re picking up guns on a regular basis.”
Drugs also bring prostitution into neighbourhoods, he said. Police have laid 80 prostitution charges this year, including 10 last month.
Some of the worst areas have been Wyandotte Street West and Drouillard Road, he said, and police are battling the problem year-round. A lot of the fight is complaint driven, with people calling police after seeing the hookers in their neighbourhoods.
“We send undercover officers into those areas,” he said. “People don’t want that around their neighbourhood.” Count Mr. Iggulden among them. “The cops have been cleaning it up,” he said. “But it hasn’t really changed. It quiets down, then it comes back again. They get banned from the area for a period of time, then they come back. It’s frustrating. After a while it gets routine. You expect it to happen. What else can we do?”
Mr. Iggulden, part of a group trying to clean up Drouillard, said he often spends his nights walking the area picking up trash and whatever else he finds. At the park, among the wrappers and beer bottles, there are often needles.
“I find so many,” said Mr. Iggulden, who lives above a Drouillard bar. “It’s all over, drugs.”
Prostitution isn’t the only byproduct of neighbourhood drug use, he said.
“They beat each other up. They’re running, chasing each other with baseball bats. There’s guys pulling knives.”
A week ago, he said a fight broke out at a church dinner between a pair of drug addicts.
But people in other neighbourhoods describe different lives, where crime does seem to be declining.
In Walkerville, Kelly Shepherd is so unconcerned with crime that she lets her four-year-old daughter play by herself in the neighbourhood.
“She gets to wander because there are good neighbours,” Ms. Shepherd, 27, said from her front porch while her daughter played nearby. “Everyone watches out for everyone’s kids.”
She said someone once broke into her car, and she is concerned enough about crime that her house has an alarm. But nothing has happened in the 18 months that she’s lived here to make her afraid to walk alone at night or fear for her daughter’s safety.
“Nothing big, so far.”
…this post forwarded by a Windsor Humanist, Alexander Hodgins, after a July 20, 2007 article by Trevor Wilhelm in The Windsor Star