The situation table is one important piece of furniture, and the Ontario government is funding it.

The Hawkesbury Police Services Board has received a $75,000 Community Safety and Policing Grant from the Ministry of the Solicitor General for the Prescott-Russell Situation Table.

The situation table meets bi-weekly and is composed of representatives of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), and other organizations who discuss the root causes of crime, poverty, addictions, mental health issues, and educational challenges in the local community.  The funds from the grant will be used to pay a coordinator who will facilitate the meetings that focus on identifying and responding to high-risk situations.

Hawkesbury Police Services Board Chair Robert Lefebvre said the coordinator’s work was being done by a staff member from Mental Health and Addictions at Hawkesbury and District General Hospital, but it was difficult for her to fulfill the additional duties.

Lefebvre said the situation table meets every other Wednesday.  At the meetings, various files and situations are addressed and the social agencies and police officers discuss which methods of intercession are best.  Lefebvre said the OPP often takes the lead because of its role as a first responder.

The grant funding is spread over three years for paying the situation table coordinator.  Lefebvre said that the future of the role and funding for it will be re-assessed at the end of that time period.  He said the coordinator has already been hired and will be starting in the role shortly.

“We’re very pleased with the person,” said Lefebvre.

Hawkesbury has a specific contract for OPP services, while other municipalities such as Champlain and East Hawkesbury do not.  Lefebvre explained that having a contract with the OPP makes Hawkesbury eligible to apply for grants like the one it has received for the situation table, unlike non-contract municipalities which do not have police services boards and cannot apply for grants.

“It gives us access, we have more of a voice,” Lefebvre said.