31 Division Inspector looks to grow with unique community

By Sean Delaney

New Inspector of 31 Division, Roger Desrochers is looking forward to getting to know the eclectic and unique community he now serves.

Desrochers started with 31 Division four months ago.

He has just over 24 years in service, with 25 years to come in December.

“It happens very fast,” he said.

The majority of his career has been out of uniform in high level investigations. But he now has close to seven years in uniform and will remain in uniform he said for the rest of his career.

“It’s nice to be back. You forget about the grassroots work,” Desrochers said. “You bury your head when you’re in investigative work. In homicide you’re reactive to a case. In proactive work, you have to go out and look for it. It’s undercover work, search warrants, proving there is an offence but establishing there is one at first as well. So doing this is incredibly refreshing after almost 20 years in major crime, investigations and intelligence.”

And coming to a position like this is unique, he said. As an inspector he is second in command at 31 Division. A handful of OPP stations across the province have Inspectors in command, but almost all stations operate with a superintendent and inspector as second in command.

“And in any relationship like that, it’s figuring out where you stand and where you fit that’s important,” he said. Desrochers works under Superintendent Andy Singh, and said the transition has been seamless, as the two share many of the same goals in policing.

“It’s about helping him get the service to where he wants it to be. We’re unique in that we have 16 different jurisdictions or towns that we manage, and we’re very lucky in that we’re given the autonomy to manage them differently because they all have different needs.”

The Division is very much in line with the OPP Chief’s current position of community wellness and wellbeing, Desrochers said.

An example is how they are pivoting in working with the community to solve problems.

“Historically we would action things we felt were only police problems and refer people to other agencies for those that weren’t. But to solve problems we’re pivoting in the ‘oh, it’s not a police actionable incident, but were happy to help anyway’ times. We’re working with bylaw, city councillors private property owners to action issues, even if not traditional police issues.”

The BIA was having an issue with migrant workers setting up in parking lot and waiting for job opportunities, Desrcohers said, and that was fine. The property management was done well, but then vendors started to set up and serve food to those people and in front of other business owners’ properties. So, issues ended up falling under City, bylaw and health department, and representatives of every aspect, including a city councillor came and everyone offered opinions and solutions.

“How can we solve these complex social issues so that everyone is satisfied? It wasn’t one where we said, ok, not our issue, let us know if you need us to keep the peace and left. We stayed and tried to contribute to a solution.”

And on the community, Desrochers said he looks forward to knowing it, and contributing, even more.

“I’ve been here for a short four months and haven’t spent a lot of time in every corner of the division but I’m looking forward to engaging with the community you’re (Emery Village Voice) serving and all the other parts of the division. It is a massive division but it has such unique and interesting pockets, I can’t wait to engage with all of them over the years.”