CORNWALL Ontario – The biggest news story this week here in Cornwall has been the tale of police officers, while making a domestic call, discovering an elderly couple in distress with no food in their house.
Upon further examination the story evolves that the couple, married 54 years, had ended up destitute to the point that the husband felt forced to sell his wedding band to a local “consignment shop” and that our CCPS members took up a collection and not only bought the ring back, but delivered a load of food. Cue media adoration including major media outlets like CTV and the Toronto Star. Cue the police chief for some cutaway shots and sound bites lamenting the larger role that society forces on police.
We have some great people in this town and some of those are in fact members of the CCPS. But a lot of chatter has come of this story.
Generally in a media story of this nature there’s a photo of the person or people involved. This was not the case. The identity of the couple was not disclosed nor that of the store.
Breaking down the story is frightening if you think about it and puts Cornwall in a light that is far darker than the generous actions of some of our police service force, who happen to be looking for a near 2% increase as it’s budget time.
The person who broke the story was councilor Andre Rivette who was on the Police Service Board. He did so at a live Council meeting. It was not the Standard Freeholder or CFN that ran the story after, but the Seaway News. The Free Holder only ran the story after other media from outside Cornwall highlighted it with that being the focus of the headline.
CFN would not run such a story unless we factually could state that what happened happened and we were not provided with details or facts.
The big question was why this story was essentially “leaked” to the public?
Some of Chief Dan Parkinson’s quotes.
This was not a police call, and it shouldn’t have been a police call,” said Parkinson. “We have become a social service of choice and availability…the role of police in a community has evolved to include dealing with situations we never used to see.
“The bigger story here is you have a couple in distress in the midst of our community and it’s the police that have to go. It’s not a police matter but it turns into one because there’s no other services out there on a Saturday or a Sunday,” he said.
“It really has caused us to become the social service of choice — we’re here 24/7, 365 days a year. If there’s anything that happens that requires assistance, it seems to roll to us. We don’t oppose intervening, because someone needs to, but our officers are called upon to deal with these things and ensure people are referred on to the proper help.”
“They felt this was nothing out of the ordinary,” Parkinson added. “We see these kinds of things more often than you would think.”
More and more people are falling through the cracks of the health-care system, said Parkinson, and the police are often the only service able to respond.“The tragedy behind this story is the growth of dementia and the problems associated with it. It shouldn’t have been a police matter, but we’re evolving in our role as 24-hour first responders,” he said.
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