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Bad drivers, break-ins top list of concerns at Twitter town hall

York Regional Police took to social media last night to hear public feedback about policing and community safety issues
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York Regional Police Chief Eric Jolliffe (centre) and deputy chiefs Robertson Rouse (left) and Thomas Carrique made notes of public feedback during the force's Twitter town hall Jan. 8. Twitter photo

Long before York Regional Police kicked off last night's Twitter town hall, it was cheekily taunted by a follower @GaryGaryson69: “I need more cow updates and puns”.

York police didn’t disappoint with its reply: “COW UPDATE - Early information from officers is that these bovines are known to police and are repeat offenders. Udderly unacceptable.”

The follower’s comment was a reference to several incidents over 2014 to 2017 that involved cows migrating onto the roadway and the good-humoured York police Twitter handlers posting tweets such as this one on Aug. 29, 2017: “COWS - It’s been a while, but appears that some cows have moooved out onto the roadway. Heads up driving in the area of Smith Blvd/Hwy. 48.”

After a few chuckles with its 152,000 followers, York police got down to business. The two-hour long town hall on the social media platform generated hundreds of comments about policing concerns, traffic issues and how the local force can better engage the communities it serves. The evening’s discussion included the hashtag #YRPTownHall for those following along.

At the start, a photograph was posted of York Regional Police Chief Eric Jolliffe and deputy chiefs Thomas Carrique and Robertson Rouse, who were on hand to observe and take note of the public’s concerns, comments and suggestions.

Here’s a sampling of concerns raised by York Region residents during the Jan. 8 town hall, and York police’s response:

@bpaj wrote: “It is not really a concern, but I would like to see more police presence around high schools, after school. Plus, I wish you guys would do random locker checks. It would make everything so much safer.”

“The law does not allow for police to randomly search lockers, or any private property for that matter. The safety and security of school property starts with our schools. And we work closely with our education partners so that our schools are safe and secure.” ~@YRP

@dasblaw wrote: “Speeding on my street at night time. Police never around at night but are on occasion during the day.”

“Our officers are on patrol 24 hours a day. We'd encourage you to file a Road Watch complaint here. When we know about a complaint area, we can better direct our patrols.” ~@YRP

@JeffNova4 wrote: “One big issue is distracted drivers. Has to be a way to stop people from texting and talking on the phone while driving! You can tell as they are either slow as molasses or are all over the road.”

“Distracted driving is definitely one of the 'Big 5' dangers on our roads. That's why penalties have recently been increased. York police will soon be releasing a new video addressing this matter.” ~@YRP

@CarloGon wrote: “I find a few police officers who are on duty in their vehicles parked in back of public properties, taking two to three hour breaks chatting with another partner. One parks one way, the other parks the other, so they can open their windows and chat. Is this OK?”

“Police officers have a lot of administrative duties and the cruiser is their office. We've provided them with the tech to do that work while maintaining visibility in their community. If you're wondering about a parked cruiser, call 1-866-876-5423.” ~@YRP

@Bowcott3 wrote: “You launched a new program for DUI many call "name and shame". Some have an issue with naming those charged vs. convicted. What is your reasoning and are you not concerned you may name people with the same name?”

“We identify these drivers with their age and the municipality in which they reside. Our goal is that anyone thinking about getting behind the wheel impaired considers the impact of being on this list.” ~@YRP

Based on the feedback during the town hall, road safety and break-and-enters seemed to be top of mind for many.

One follower in the Woodbine and 16th avenues area of Markham said her community has started a Neighbourhood Watch program due to the high number of residential break-and-enters.

Many comments mentioned “bad drivers” and dangerous and criminal driving habits such as impaired, speeding, red-light running, and driving with obstructed views from snow and ice among their concerns.

A Twitter poll conducted during the town hall on road safety has so far garnered 971 votes. Impaired driving took 44 per cent of the votes as the most worrisome, followed by distracted driving at 32 per cent, aggressive driving at 21 per cent, and vulnerable road users such as cyclists, pedestrians and road workers at three per cent.

York police say the public input will be used to inform the force’s business plan over the next few years.

You can follow York Regional Police on Twitter and Facebook, or visit their website for more information.

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Kim Champion

About the Author: Kim Champion

Kim Champion is a veteran journalist and editor who covers Newmarket and issues that impact York Region.
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