OPP consider reopening Grand Bend office in the summer

The Grand Bend OPP satellite office. OPP officials want a summer detachment in the beachfront community.

The head of the Lambton OPP detachment says there is a need to open a summer detachment in Grand Bend.

The OPP used to staff an office near Pinery Provincial Park, however for years, police responded to calls in Grand Bend from the Forest office with officers using a storefront on the main street.

Inspector Chris Avery was recently speaking to Warwick Township council when he mentioned the increasing violence in the beach side community.

“We’ve recorded a lot greater violence and an upsurge in our calls for service there. We’re having an escalation of serious assaults and weapons offenses,” he said noting alcohol related offenses, assaults, and sexual assaults are on the upswing. There was also a murder in the community last year.

“In recent years has been a renewed swelling of the summer population of Grand Bend and Lambton Shores,” he says.

“The COVID (pandemic) wasn’t any help to us because Grand Bend stayed open and others were not, so a new population seems to have discovered the shores of Lambton County.”

Avery says normally Grand Bend gets visitors from Windsor, London and Kitchener. In the pandemic, people from the Toronto region visited, bringing their problems with them, he says.

“We’ve had some discussions about the increased violence there,” Avery says noting Lambton OPP have put a request in with the West Region to reopen the summer detachment there.

“We’ve seen that some of the people that come from away lack of a better term, are bringing prejudices from the home area,” he says adding rivals in Toronto can find each other in the beach town and “that can be a cause of some conflict and violence” including swarmings.

Avery added in some cases, the gangs are trying spring people who have been arrested in Grand Bend. “Crowds come to try and take their friends back,” he says.

The inspector says he’s asked West Region for “extra bodies” to police the region, wanting to be sure resources aren’t pulled from other parts of Lambton to deal with issues in Grand Bend.

Avery did not say when a decision on re-opening a Grand Bend office might be made.