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Police Chief Watts

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Police Chief Watts
First name Chief
Last name Watts
Community Paris


Story

This interview has been contributed by the Paris Museum and Historical Society. It was taken on August 15, 1979, by a volunteer for the Paris Public Library.

Interview

Q. Could we start with your personal career, your involvement in Police work and why did you come to Paris?

A. My own personal career-I started in 1948 in the R.C-M..P. I trained out west, from there to Rockcliffe, which is Ottawa and finished the seven months training there. From there I was transferred to Toronto end did e short time in Toronto with the R.C.M.P. Then to Hamilton, where I did a year. At that time, it was strictly a federal function-we did income tax investigations, naturalizations and citizenship preparations and customs end excise, we did drug work-actually at that time in the R.C.M.P. about five men did all the drug work in Southern Ontario. Probably now there are one hundred men, alone in Toronto, who do nothing but. But at that time, five men were able to take care of it, The Hamilton Detachment did all the federal statutes and so on. Then I did two end a half years, after that from Hamilton, on the Six Nations Reserve. That was general police work- we did federal statutes, provincial statues and everything else. As alot of other people were in the R.C.M.P. at that time-the marriage regulations at that time were five years service. I met my wife, of twenty-seven years of marriage at that time in Brantford. So in 1952. I got out of the R.C.M.P. and went on Brantford City Police. I got out July 16,1952, and went to work about two days later in Brantford. I worked at everything in Brantford that I suppose one would do in police work, from walking the beat to six years motorcycle traffic work, end some detective work. In the latter part of my time in Brantford I was promoted to Corporal and beck again on shift work. Somewhere in the fall of 1964, the Deputy-Chief in Brantford, then, came to me end asked me if I would be interested in going to Paris because they had been without an active Chief -well the late chief Tom Bean was still Chief at the time but they had been without his service through sickness for probably a year or so. The late Dave Jack had been responsible in the capacity of Sergeant to the force. I came here about the 4th of November in 1964 end a very short time later they asked if I would consider taking it on as a full-time job, which resulted in my having to resign from the Brantford force. When I was here for the first three months. I was still actually a member of the Brantford City Police. I was just here in en acting capacity end as I say, the opportunity came up so in February of 1965. I was sworn in as full-time Police Chief. At that time there were six men and myself in 1965. Since that time, there are now nine men end myself plus one female employee. Probably that is no fester then the growth rate of the municipality has been at that time either. Generally, that is just my background in police work-31 years tomorrow (August 16, 1979).

Q. You have 9 officers. How is the force structured?

A. We have a fairly senior force. We are all first class constables-two sergeants, seven first class constables. That means that we haven't lost anybody or had any resignations for three years. The rank structure of all forces ere the same depending on size- fourth class or probationary officers to third class then second class- that's three complete years before they become first class constables. Probationary period in all forces according to the Police Act is 18 months. They can be let go with cause anytime up to that without too much fuss as long as there is a legitimate reason to release him. After the 18 months probation and they become full-fledged officers then to get rid of them- you Just don't fire them- you have to have good just cause-usually for some contravention of the Police Act. We're probably one of the only groups of people that is under the direction of an Act exclusively for us-aside from ell the other Acts that apply to the public. We ere one of a few groups of people who have en Act to govern, discipline, conduct, everything else.

Ordinarily, in larger forces, you would have the four ranks of constable and then to sergeant rank, then to staff sergeant rank, to what we call commissioned officers, then inspectors, staff inspectors, superintendents, staff superintendents, and so on.

Q. Could we have the names of the officers?

A. We'll start at the bottom : Cliff Miller, Ron Yorksey, Dave Maxwell, John Alway, George Wardell, Joe Gazik, Ser. Ed. Hussy, Ser. Gary Little and myself. Claudia Boaz has been with us as secretary and all round handy person for over four years now. Prior to that, Wendy Young started with us three years before. We've heed somebody at staff side for the lest seven years approx.

Q. How is the town covered by the police force? What are the working hours of the officers end what kind of shifts do they work?

A. We're not unique in four ten-hour days. We are probably unique in police forces right at the present time. Others have tried it, some have given it up and so on, Now, there are others experimenting in four ten-hour days. So, maybe our idea isn't too bad after all. The main reason that we work it is because of the small numbers. In the early part of the week there is just one person on practically at any given time. With a ten-hour days you a two- hour overlap from four to six. In other words, the end of the one shift overlaps with the other and then the night shift comes on at ten o'clock at night until eight in the morning and there's an overlap from ten until two. So regardless of how many men you have on, whether it's two men or one man on the shift, you have double during that four hour peak period. Any statistics anywhere would justify the fact that from ten until two is prime time. It increases at ten o'clock and tapers off from two o' clock in the morning on. So that is really prime time for active police work. The fellows like it, I like it but the Ontario Police Commission doesn't like it. I don't think they are really justified in saying that because they haven't worked under it. They are just going by other information that a person lose their capacity to function properly after x number of hours. But there are more and more industries going to ten-hour days. In fact, Jim McGrandless, that was with us at one time, left four or five years ago and went to the west coast and went on the National Harbour Police out there. Prom that he went to Fort Moody, which is a suburb of Vancouver-thay are working twelve-hour days now. They're working something like firemen with four on and four off. They're actually working a 46 hour week-getting paid for a 46 hour week- but they're four days on end four days off. That's just an experiment out there, I understand.

Q. Does each officer have a beat or an area of town he must cover?

A. No, normally in a bigger town that would be the general idea- it would be divided up into patrol areas and so on. But, there's much time when we just have one patrol vehicle on. I just did a little statistical map, not too long ago; that I can show you. I divided the town up into six areas and the downtown. This was for the first six months of this year. Now, I don't suppose many people realize the number of calls we get. The totals in each are are what I would call complaint or assistance calls which required immediate action- in other words things that had to be attended to forthwith. This doesn't include someone coming in and saying the aerial was ripped off my car last night. (shows statistics of calls in seven areas of Paris) These are the ones we've had to respond to. The total of those figures come to 1148 for the first six months. The reported calls are 1826 so you can see the difference. This was for one reason - to dispel some ideas by the downtown area and I took it all the way to Charlotte St. There are reasons for those figures and in the next six months could, change drastically - but the downtown only accounted for 17% of our calls. On the chart here-schools, churches, industrial, commercial businesses in the downtown-approximately 81 calls. On the outskirts there are 103 calls. Those people deserve just as much attention as the downtown. Believe it or not it is about six kilometers or 4 miles from north to south by road in our town. There is more patrolling done in the downtown area simply because to get from one area to another you usually have to go through or to the downtown. The period between 10 and 2 in the morning when alot of people are home in bed or watching television is when the downtown polarizes. And another thing, that the downtown benefits from is the fact that you can't go from areas 1,2, and 3 to 4, 5 and 6 without somewhere going through the downtown.

Q. Now will you keep this up for the next 6 months?

A. Probably, now that I've started I will do the next six months for comparison. The town is probably bigger than you realize. People don't really realize- they think Paris is a small town. It's more than six miles if you went from the limits of the Mile Hill to the Fairgrounds. It is quite a patrol area and often that area is patrolled by one man. It is an unenviable job in that respect end pretty demanding. Included in those figures (statistics) are all aspects of police work. They are not all very dramatic. There are arrests and escorts- these are menial tasks of no great consequence but they are all part of the work.

Q. It sounds like you are quite involved in the town. What connection do you have with the O.P.P. and the Brantford police force?

A. We are associated with Brantford, but we are becoming more independent all the time. At one time, we paid a service fee and still do to the city. And this goes back from day one. In 1965, when I first started here we realized that we couldn't survive without them. First of all, we had no holding facilities. Second of all, we had no breathalizer people to conduct breath tests for impaired driving and so on, so we had to utilize that. Meantime, we utilized a lot of other little things. Since that time we have our own holding facilities and breathalizer men. we still pay them a token fee annually for dispatching services when the office is closed-which is all too frequently. But then again with one men on there's no way to overcome it. So what we actually have is an extension of our phone system to their switchboard. We're on the same radio frequency and they dispatch the car by radio. We actually have two radio frequencies because we have one that's exclusive to us by virtue of crystals in our machine so that if we have two vehicles on working and patrolling and have one person in the office we go to a common channel and we utilize it for our own communication beck and forth. We don't interfere with Brantford then with something that is idle chatter to them. We keep in touch with them on another channel so if there's any reason for them to need us we're still in radio contact.

Really what Brantford does for us now is they look after our crime scenes, if it's necessary- for indentificetion purposes- a fingerprint man or whatever it may be. Their court officer more or less looks after our court cases and communication. We've become more independent with our own holding cells and breathalizer. Probably as we become more sophisticated we'll gradually be able to dispense with those services. Either that or and I say this very lightly- there probably could be big changes in policing generally over the years. I probably won't see it but it has even gone so far as to forecast that we might be something similar to Great Britain: where you have an overall provincial police force with various districts. That may be in the not too distant future. I don't think I'll ever see it. Regional forces have created large forces.

We have the smallest independent police force in an area that encompasses over five million people. Using the Oxford County line as a westerly border and the easterly limits of Halton Region which goes right to Peterboro end as far north as the northerly limits of Waterloo region that encompasses at least 1/5 if not 1/4 of the population of Canada, what our future is is really hard to say.

The Smith Report which was a task force report on policing some years ago- they emphasize that it is difficult to function as a police force in a community of under 15000 people. And it is -for this reason- we can't have specialists in anything. We can't have specialists in identfication, juvenile work, we've got to be all around handy people. And we're into policing now when it is a very specialized type work, We have fellows who are quite adequate in what they do and some are quite qualified to specialize in various things. The closest we have in specialists now are two breathalizer men. It is a two week course but a very thorough course.

Q. What changes have you seen since you came here in the town-in the police force?

A. Well, I've seen quite slot of growth. Probably more than anyone saw in the 15 years previous. Our work load has increased over 100% in 15 years - probably 200%. The public demands a little more. The increase is pretty general-just going back 5 or 6 years there is a probable 100% increase in some things. It is just the age we live in. We're into things that 15 years ego were not as much concern, willful damage, for example. The crime rate has not grown as rapid as it has in larger metropolitan areas and we're fortunate to be on the fringes of high crime areas. The high crime area follows a pattern east to west from Peterboro to the Niagara Penninsula. It follows the Lake shore of Ontario- from Niagara to Hamilton to Toronto to Oshawa and so on. It accumulates in the center- Hamilton-Toronto area which has the highest crime rate.

If we have a crime wave of breaking or what-have-you they are probably cleared with one or two arrests where you clear up a dozen different things at a time sometimes. There are advantages and disadvantages to a small community. The advantage is that you know almost everyone and know their habits and traits which gives you a decided advantage. In a metropolitan area you don't know everyone's motives.

Q. What future do you see for Paris as it grows and whet changes would you like to see in your force?

A. I really don't know what growth to expect as I said it has been rapid in the last few years. This is accountable to housing and industrial growth. We also may become a bedroom community to larger centres- the closest one being Brantford. I don't see the growth being as fast in the next five as they were in the last five. But I see the demands on the Police force growing. We are in the process of hiring one more.

Q. What was it like to patrol the Six Nations Reserve?

A. I went there late in 1949. Quite frequently there were one man cars patrolling out there without any fear for our safety. We had quite a personal contact with the residents of the Six Nations. I don't think it would be safe for one man to patrol out there now, or really anywhere else in that type of policing where you are out in the middle of nowhere with assistance as close as your radio but they might be 15 to 20 minutes to half an hour away. But we had no qualms at that time, we didn't even have radio contact in those days. The different society that we live in demands more policing.

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