Mike Callaghan, chief of the Belleville Police Service, issued a statement on the afternoon of Wednesday, Feb. 7 regarding the “unprecedented event” that took place in downtown Belleville the day before.
“During the span of less than an hour, there were more than a dozen drug overdoses that took place in a small geographic area on Bridge Street East, which resulted in a tremendous strain on all emergency services and hospitals in the Belleville and greater area,” Callaghan said.
At the height of this incident, an advisory was issued by police urging residents to avoid unnecessary travel in the downtown core.
Callaghan said that the advisory was aimed at ensuring an effective response of emergency vehicles, and mitigating potential risks to public safety.
“The Belleville Police Service understands this advisory may have caused inconvenience and concern among residents and businesses alike, however we want to reassure the community that our intent was not to discourage support for local businesses or undermine the vibrancy of our downtown core,” Callaghan continued, emphasizing that it was a “necessary measure” to prioritize emergency response efforts and safeguard the welfare of all individuals.
He added that police are dedicated to working collaboratively with residents, businesses and other stakeholders to address concerns and find solutions.
“Moving forward, we are committed to working closely with the downtown business community to address any concerns and explore ways to support success in our municipality,” Callaghan said, and thanked the community for their cooperation and understanding.