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New interim chief stresses road safety for summer driving season

'We ask the community to slow down, put your seat belts on, and drop your phones. Enjoy the sunshine, enjoy the day, and arrive alive. That is my message'
John Goodman named as interim chief of police

It’s only been days since staff superintendent John Goodman began his new role as interim chief of the Waterloo Region Police Service (WRPS).

At his first police services board meeting on Wednesday, Goodman stressed road safety in his chief’s report, and said that with the warmer weather, the community needs to make sure everyone stays safe during the summer months.

“Traffic services in June were very invested and very busy with 17 collisions that resulted in injuries to seven different people. Summer has come and the weather has changed, and there are also modified vehicles hitting the road,” Goodman said.

“Impaired driving is up six per cent which is disturbing. You would think people will have learned to stop by now.  Dangerous driving charges are up by 11 per cent and seat belt charges, are up by 42 per cent which I can’t believe. The seat belt law has been in place for such a long time.”

Waterloo Regional Police, in partnership with the Ontario Provincial Police and Guelph Police Service, recently conducted a commercial vehicle blitz.

“The blitz resulted in 177 commercial vehicles being taken and inspected with 73 of those vehicles being taken out of service. These are incredible numbers. There were 122 charges laid,” Goodman said.

Stunt driving charges continue to rise and are up 17 per cent.  

Police laid 463 stunt driving charges in the region in 2021, an increase of 62 per cent over the 285 charges laid in 2020.

“We ask the community to slow down, put your seat belts on, and drop your phones. Enjoy the sunshine, enjoy the day, and arrive alive. That is my message,” Goodman said.

Goodman said that WRPS continues to follow what’s happening around the globe and in Canada with the number of officers being shot. Last week, during a bank robbery in Saanich B.C., six officers were shot with one still in critical condition.

“It’s no different here. In the month of June, there were incidents that were very disturbing. We had an impaired driver who refused to stop and actually drove at one of our cruisers. This was a 22-year-old male and this was his third impaired driving charge in a month,” Goodman said,  

“The work we do every day is dirty and dangerous, but our officers are engaged, and they are the first ones to jump in and get the job done.”

Goodman said there is incredible work being done by the investigative units to get guns and drugs off the streets.

And Goodman said plans are in the works for students coming back to school in the fall for a safe semester.

“We look forward to seeing everyone back in September and we wish everyone a great summer,” Goodman said.

While the search for a permanent replacement for former Regional Police Chief Bryan Larkin continues, Goodman said he is working with a great team, and he is excited for the opportunity.

“It’s like I’ve been given the keys to a Maserati. I have a few months to drive it around and I’ve got to bring the keys back and make sure there are no dents, and that the car is refuelled,” Goodman said.

“There might be a dent or a scratch, but we’ll get through it. It’s only been a week in the chair, but I am very thankful for this opportunity, and I will do my best for you.”

Karen Redman, chair of the Waterloo Regional Police Services Board, welcomed Goodman at Tuesday’s board meeting.

"I can not think of you and not recognize the strong relationships and the networks you have within the community. I always think of you, community policing, and a community-based approach,” she said.

“You reflect the values and the culture of a very progressive police service, and we welcome you to this position. No one knows what they are getting into until they get into it. I commend you for stepping up so quickly. I know you will do great job.”

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Barbara Latkowski

About the Author: Barbara Latkowski

Barbara graduated with a Masters degree in Journalism from Western University and has covered politics, arts and entertainment, health, education, sports, courts, social justice, and issues that matter to the community. She joined CambridgeToday in 2021
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