‘If we’re healthy on the inside, we will be healthy on the outside to deliver services to the community’ – incoming St. Thomas Police Chief Marc Roskamp

city_scope_logo-cmykThe city’s new police chief – as of January next year – wants to ensure the St. Thomas Police Service continues to deliver services to the highest standards of integrity and professionalism.
That was abundantly evident during our conversation this week with current Deputy Chief, Marc Roskamp.
He’s a 25-year veteran of the St. Thomas Police Service with 16 years in uniform patrol before moving up to the Criminal Investigation Branch and then being appointed Deputy Chief in 2018.
The announcement of the retirement of Chief Chris Herridge and the promotion of Roskamp has an added personal touch.
Born and raised in Chatham, Roskamp’s father was also involved in policing.
“My father was a police officer in Chatham and, coincidently, he retired as the chief of police for the Chatham Police Service.
“So this is quite an honour, both personally and professionally, for myself and my family.
“My research tells me it is rare to have a father and then a son reach the office of chief.”

Roskamp credits Herridge and the chiefs immediately prior, advising he will take pages from their playbooks.
“I’ve learned so much from those who have come before me and I will take a page or two from every one of their playbooks.
“It’s quite a lineup.”
Like Chief Herridge, Roskamp stresses “We have to make sure we are responding to the needs of the community – in a sustainable way – for a community that we know is very supportive of us.”


Deputy Chief Marc Roskamp

He adds, “The capabilities and reputation of our police service is really something to be very proud of.
“And, we’re well positioned internally to continue providing superior public safety services for our community that exceed adequacy and effectiveness standards, we believe, set by the province.”
Part of that is the evolving gender composition of the service.
“We are so proud that our current gender ratio for sworn personnel is higher than the national average at 26 per cent female.
“And our current gender ratio for civilian members is over 76 per cent. These are areas that we take great pride in.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do and we’re continuing to do that.”
Roskamp’s promotion to chief is just one aspect of what will become the new administrative team at the police service.
Additional administrative appointments and promotions include; Insp. Scott Barnes, a 28-year-veteran appointed to the Deputy Chief’s position; Insp. Steve Bogart promoted to a Staff Inspector’s position; and a newly promoted Inspector will be Kim Manuel, the service’s first sworn female member of the administration team. These new promotions will complement the existing administration including Tiffany Terpstra, Executive Administrator and Alison Barrie, Human Resource Coordinator.

“From a public safety perspective, I believe so strongly in the health of the community and its citizens. And one of my main priorities will also be to build up the resiliency of our members of the police family.”

“That administrative team that’s coming into place is a strong reflection of our capacities and talent.
“Each new member of the administration has community service stitched into their DNA.
“And they bring diverse experience, expert experience and over 100 years of policing experience combined.”
Roskamp stresses, “Our community is vibrant and growing at a very fast pace, and with that, comes an obligation on all of us – to ensure that we are working together so that we can deliver responsive services in ways that continue to matter.
“And with that comes uncertainty and change, sometimes. And the exciting realities of a vibrant city that we’re seeing and we live in bring new challenges where we need to reimagine the role that we all play in community wellness.
He continues, “It will be a goal of mine and my administration to work collaboratively with the community and all of those in the community that can help us provide community wellness.”
But it is also about the well-being of the men and women of the police service, stresses Roskamp.
“From a public safety perspective, I believe so strongly in the health of the community and its citizens. And one of my main priorities will also be to build up the resiliency of our members of the police family.

“Because when one member is struggling, then I believe we are all struggling as a team.”

“I’ve said this before if we’re healthy on the inside, we will be healthy on the outside to deliver services to the community.
“In recent years, there has been a shift in police culture and some of that is the direct result of the dynamic nature of policing, the pandemic and the widespread social challenges that we have been facing.
“And this has changed the collective heart of policing in many ways and the wellness of officers.”
A collective heart of policing ripped asunder by the deaths of officers on duty in Ontario and Vancouver in the past couple of months.
“We attend the funerals of three police officers and that takes its toll. And, unlike any time in the past, there is an evolving need now to just review and modify and create systems in our culture and begin to look at a transformation of member wellness.
“That will be a commitment of mine to remove any obstacles that are in place for our members to receive adequate treatment without stigma.

“I am ready for this, I am excited about this next move and I think we are well placed.”

“I will do my part to ensure that happens and that we provide those tools to our members.
“Because when one member is struggling, then I believe we are all struggling as a team.”
The promotion is something Roskamp admits he has been looking forward to.
“Mostly in the last five years I’ve really been mentored and I’ve latched on to the leaders that were before me, particularly Chief Herridge.
“I am ready for this, I am excited about this next move and I think we are well placed.”


You knew it was only a matter of time. Homeless encampments are popping up in various corners of the city, illustrating it is not just a downtown problem.
On Monday’s agenda, members of council will hear a presentation from Danielle Neilson, Homelessness Prevention and Housing Programs Coordinator on a protocol for responding to reports of encampment.
homeless encampmentNeilson points out, “People experiencing homelessness who are living unsheltered in encampments are often vulnerable and may struggle with social and health inequities such as trauma, victimization, poverty, lack of access to resources including housing, substance use, and physical and mental health challenges.”
She continues, “While the needs of people living unsheltered in encampments must remain a priority, encampments on land not designed for human habitation can lead to public health and environmental safety concerns for people residing within them, as well as the surrounding community.
“Examples of public health and environmental safety concerns include and are not limited to open fires, biohazardous waste build-up, food contamination and the impact of inclement weather.
“There is also a concern from local businesses that encampments negatively impact their businesses.”
In St. Thomas, encampments on public land are prohibited under local bylaws and the Trespass to Property Act.
Camping on private land is subject to the landowner’s approval and compliance with local bylaws.
The city has created a Coordinated Collaborative Response (CCR) protocol to deal with a report of an encampment on public land.
In a nutshell, a street outreach team will attend the encampment to notify those involved of an impending cleanup.

“Sustainable affordable housing is the solution to making encampments go away.”

Bylaw officers will attend the location to provide notice to vacate by 10 a.m. the next day.
St. Thomas-Elgin Social Services will then arrange for cleanup.
It is not evident in the report what happens to the individuals and their possessions
Or do they just move on and establish another encampment and it becomes an endless cat-and-mouse game?
We’ve seen and heard horror stories in larger urban centres and the cleanup can turn ugly if not violent.
The Ontario Alliance to End Homelessness notes on its website, “Clearing encampments results in people being displaced, away from the supports they were relying on, to other precarious and sometimes more dangerous options. The problem is not solved. Sustainable affordable housing is the solution to making encampments go away.”


It’s as Canadian as it gets.
An outdoor skating rink to enjoy gliding along the ice on a crisp, sunny winter afternoon.
After the success of the outdoor rink adjacent to Msgr. Morrison Catholic School last year, all parties involved are moving ahead with plans for this winter.
Outdoor skating rink siteIn a report to council for Monday, Jeff Bray Director of Parks, Recreation and Property Management advises Doug Tarry plans to continue with the rink working with the same sponsors Home Hardware, Impressions Printing and the St. Thomas Fire Department.
This year the proposed rink will be a prefabricated 28 by 52-foot package with off-duty firefighters completing the initial flood plus subsequent floods as needed.
Of course, the entire program is weather dependent and the rink will open as soon as temperatures drop and remain open as the weather permits.
In the south end of the city, don’t forget the natural ice available at Lake Margaret.


Pedestrian crossoverIf approved by council on Monday, five new pedestrian crossovers will be installed in the city, three of them on Wellington Street.
Also included in the tender package is the installation of traffic signals on Sunset Drive at the entrance to Parkside Collegiate.
The exact locations are as follows:

• Intersection pedestrian signal (IPS -a pedestrian green/amber/red signal) at Elm Street and Park Ave.
• Pedestrian crossover at First Ave and Forest Ave.
• Pedestrian crossover at Wellington Street and Park Ave.
• Pedestrian crossover at Wellington Street and Metcalfe Street
• Pedestrian crossover at Wellington Street and L&PS Trail
• Traffic signal on Sunset Drive at the entrance to Parkside Collegiate Institute

The cost of the undertaking is just over $520,000, excluding HST, with work possibly starting as early as mid-November.
The contractor will have 20 business days to complete the work at each location.
The city chose to move to crossovers because of the difficulty in finding crossing guards for these locations.
In a report to council in September of this year, Patrick Anckaert, Manager of Capital Works, advised council “Staff will work to maintain current service levels however there is a risk that some crossings may not be staffed on select days and times throughout the fall and winter.”


Sifting through the city’s audited financial statement for 2021 we see just over $41.6 million in long-term debt obligations.
This includes $5.3 million attributed to Valleyview, $1.49 million at 423 Talbot Street for the city’s social services department, $11.9 million for the new police station, $8.4 million for 1Password Park and $8 million for the community and social services hub at 230 Talbot Street.
There is also an internal debt of $6.6 million related to the city’s investment in the Chatham-Kent utility Entegrus. This is paid down through the annual dividends from Entegrus.
The annual debt servicing cost is just over $4 million and is no doubt rising due to interest rate hikes.

Questions and comments may be emailed to City Scope

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And a reminder, I can be heard weekday afternoons as news anchor and reporter on 94.1 myFM in St. Thomas. As always, your comments and input are appreciated.


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