Editorial – OPP Have The Best Investigators In Canada But They Also Have the Worst Communications In Dealing With Major Crimes

In Editorial

Ontario Provincial Police are one of the, if not the top police service in Canada in all aspects – except one.

And the one aspect they’ve always had trouble with – communication. For years they have trouble with communications – many years.

This week, dealing with the OPP it’s been no different.

Communications is nearly zilch – nada regarding a suspicious death in Cramahe Township.

For minor occurrences, media has always dealt with communications officers at the detachment.

For the most part over the years, they’ve been great. It’s about understanding the needs of the media and the cooperation on both parties.

With serious incidents like the suspicious death east of Colborne that was reported on May 18, 2020 the press releases are believed to have come down from OPP headquarters in Orillia. Or passed through the Detective Inspector in charge of the investigation and down the chain.

This is where their system fails miserably.

The adult male was found on May 19 at 7 p.m., but the first press release wasn’t issued until May 20 at nearly 7 p.m. Almost two days later.

When Today’s Northumberland asked the local media officer along with the Central Region Media Officer for any update on Saturday, May 23, 2020 they said there was no update.

But there is.

There was approximately 20 or more members of the Emergency Response Team at the location along with a canine unit, a command vehicle and a forensic identification van.

It was reported at least one vehicle was towed from the scene later in the day. In the past few days people have reported to Today’s Northumberland of a helicopter over the area.

People who live in the area are naturally worried.

Could this be a murder?

All signs point to it, but there has been nothing confirmed.

Maybe as a result of COVID, an autopsy hasn’t been performed as yet and it hasn’t been confirmed either way.

Has the male been identified?

All items that could be released without jeopardizing the investigation.

There is speculation and rumours in the community. This is what investigators are generally looking for. They hear rumblings and can decipher what is the truth and what is gossip.

Investigators want to be able to tell fact from fiction to help point them in the right direction.

But there has to be a level of communication from the police to the community.

If it is a murder, time will tell when it was confirmed by police and when they notified the public.

OPP Corporate Communications has for the most part failed in keeping the public updated over the years. The communication aspect of this, is frankly no different then other major investigations.

I’ve always gone by the analogy, “if you can see it, say it.”

If there are numerous police vehicles on the property, say it. The worst thing you can say is that there are no updates.   That isn’t a slight on the media officers locally.  It’s higher up the chain.  If this investigation was in a major city like Toronto.  There would definitely be more than one release in five days.

Today’s Northumberland reached out on Saturday to the investigating officer in charge of this case – Detective Inspector Serge Acay who said he will contact us when he is able.

People in Cramahe Township deserve better after five days.

A number of people who live in the area have reached out to Today’s Northumberland asking for any updates as they have children and want to know if it is safe.  Well – is it?

This “suspicious death” is on a main route – County Road 2. Thousands of vehicles go by there every day.

It’s understandable that police have to remain tight lipped about a number of things.

But when over 20 officers are on scene, when a canine unit, command post, forensic identification unit are on scene five days after the initial call, stating there is no update is a “copout.”

Pete Fisher
Author: Pete Fisher

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