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Students tasked with investigating minor crimes in Sarnia

A team of students will be working to solve less serious crimes in Sarnia.

The Community Crime Unit consists of four Lambton College students in police foundations and border security.

In a few weeks, the students will be assigned select cases relating to property damage and theft, and other minor crimes in Sarnia.

Sarnia police Chief Derek Davis admits both are files full-time officers rarely get to.

“We are called for a lot of things, and we are never able to do everything that people want us to do,” he said. “It’s just the reality of policing.”

And that reality has left some residents feeling powerless. Despite online police reporting, Davis says many victims of petty crimes fail to notify police.

He hopes the new program will reverse the trend.

Police Foundations student Jessie Hull is seen in front of the new Community Crime Unit Van in Sarnia, Ont. on Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2023. (Sean Irvine/CTV News London)

Community Crime Unit student Jessie Hull agrees. He told CTV London, he is looking forward to offering the public a face-to-face response.

“When we show up, they’ll know, nothing is minor. It’s not minuscule. We’ll take it very seriously,” Hull said.

The students will be monitored by their Lambton College instructors and a Sarnia police officer.

The four participants will have access to real-world investigative tools. However, they will need an officer to pursue an arrest.

The additional resource is welcomed by the Sarnia Chamber of Commerce.

CEO Carrie McEachran says her members have been hit hard by minor crimes.

“They're not petty to them. These (crimes) have huge impacts on our local businesses”, she said.

Chief Davis believes the Community Crime Unit model will be quickly duplicated by other communities.

He also discredits any notation it takes away policing jobs.

“This doesn’t replace police officers,” Davis said. “This really fills the gap of things we can’t get to.”

A college official states the Community Crime Unit also fills a gap in real-world experience for students.

“We are grateful for the way the community crime unit will enhance the preparation of our students and graduates as they become criminal justice professionals in our community,” stated Mary Vaughn, senior vice president of academic and student success. 

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