Loss of police COR Unit raising safety concerns in high-crime neighbourhoods
"It was a terrifying way to wake up." In the early morning hours of Nov. 7, London police arrested two people in possession of a handgun and drugs in the driveway of Cristiana Carovillano’s home.
“I’m alone, so it’s pretty scary,” Carovillano recalls. “There was an incident the following day and I did call the police, and that’s when I found out the COR Unit is no longer available to us.”
Police Chief Steve Williams recently disbanded the Community Oriented Response (COR) Unit, redeploying its 14 officers to address a steep rise in complex calls and investigations.
“I’m not sure being so lean and efficient is always something to brag about because there’s a cost for that,” Chief Williams tells CTV News London. “Right now, what I think we’re seeing is that manifest itself in a delayed response time.”
Response times to life-threatening Code 1 emergency calls are 27 per cent longer, it’s taking police 97 per cent longer to respond to Code 2 crimes in progress, and non-emergency response times are now measured in days -- not hours.
The focus of the COR Unit was proactive policing including quick intervention to prevent escalation to more serious crimes.
Its team of officers had the flexibility to target chronic neighbourhood issues anywhere in London.
Over the past two years, Carovillano built a relationship with the COR Unit.
“They understand, they know what’s going on. I don’t have to re-explain myself,” she says.
The London Police Association (LPA) believes less proactive policing will lead to more reactive investigations of serious crime.
However, the police union is quick to add that the stress faced by overworked frontline officers needed immediate support.
“Its going to have an impact,” explains the LPA’s Rick Robson. “But we are in a time and place where it’s simply not possible to have both the COR Unit and to have people wait days and days to see a police officer arrive at their home.”
Williams hopes the COR Unit’s redeployment is temporary and planned hirings early in the new year will offer some relief.
If not, he may need to seek financial support from city hall to expand his ranks.
“The answer may lie in an increase to our baseline budget, we’ll be looking at that very hard in the coming months,” he says.
In the meantime, Carovillano feels let down.
“Right now we have no support. When we call the police, we’re just another call.”