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GSPS responds to ‘every call’ related to intimate-partner violence

Greater Sudbury Police Service Det.-Sgt. Lee Rinaldi shed some light on local police response to intimate partner violence incidents, which the police board and city have called an ‘epidemic’
Greater Sudbury Police Service Det.-Sgt. Lee Rinaldi speaks during this week’s board meeting, at which he delivered a presentation on intimate partner violence.

Following two local declarations classifying gender-based and intimate partner violence to be an epidemic, Greater Sudbury Police Service shed some light on how they’ve been handling it.

Perhaps the most puzzling question has been, why is intimate partner violence on the rise?

Between 2012 and 2022, the low point was 2014, when 2,190 incidents were recorded.

The high point was 2020, when 3,377 incidents were recorded, with the two subsequent years finding numbers drop slightly, to 3,293 in 2021 and 3,227 in 2022.

The 10-year average is 3,036 incidents, which Greater Sudbury exceeded in 2018 (3,132), and 2020, 2021 and 2022. 

These annual totals reported by Statistics Canada capture all calls for service cleared with an intimate partner violence-related component/charge.

There’s no easy explanation for the spike in recent years, Det.-Sgt. Lee Rinaldi told, describing it as “multi-faceted.” 

“You’d be looking at socioeconomic (factors), certainly societal pressures are greater than they have been in the past,” Rinaldi said, adding the pandemic also brought about changes in people’s home lives.

“There are so many different variables, and I think right now in the declaration (of an epidemic) and joining 60 other municipalities in the province (in doing so), there’s a collective energy being put forward to identify and tackle these issues.”

Rinaldi spoke to following a presentation to the Greater Sudbury Police Board earlier this week, at which he delivered a presentation on intimate partner violence.

The presentation was requested by the board following a recent spike in intimate partner violence which sparked city council and the police board to declare it to be an epidemic.

More than 60 Ontario municipalities have also declared a gender-based/intimate partner violence epidemic, including Sault Ste. Marie, where a high-profile murder-suicide left five people dead last year, including three children.

The key takeaways Rinaldi sought to leave the police board and general public through his presentation was that education is key to prevention, and that there’s always a path out from intimate partner violence.

It might not always feel like it, he said, describing a web of manipulative tactics people use to keep their intimate partners in a cycle of control.

Criticism, verbal abuse, sulking, threats, withholding money, isolating, degrading treatment and various means of taking control of their partner’s lives are common tactics, Rinaldi said, adding they’ll criminally harass their partner and “won’t allow that relationship or that power and control to break.”

When it comes to GSPS, he said they’re “committed to answering every intimate partner violence call.”

Even in situations where the call is anonymous, he said police follow up and lay charges in every case where it’s reasonable to do so.

“Under no circumstances shall an intimate partner violence incident call be cancelled.”

That said, Rinaldi clarified that police strive to place victims in the driver’s seat.

In many cases, they’ve been placed under someone else’s power and control, and police strive to give them as many options as possible.

“Police oftentimes are a stop along the way in the process of this individual getting out of this relationship,” he said, adding that police link victims up with various agencies to help them along the way, both through the legal process and afterward.

Breaking free and moving forward is “not necessarily led by the police, but it’s the police’s understanding that there are strong community partnerships that can help these victims and we can work in collaboration,” Rinaldi said.

“Police are oftentimes a stop along the way in a victim’s path, and there are so many agencies that can serve a victim moving past the judicial portion of their journey.”

GSPS has “made a lot of progress” in strengthening their relationship with these agencies, he said, and is always evolving to accommodate different cultures.

During this week’s police board meeting, member Gerry Lougheed suggested the board pass a motion in which the board advocates for additional funding to local women’s shelters to ensure nobody is turned away when they’re at capacity.

After the meeting, board chair Al Sizer told they’d consider a motion related to Lougheed’s suggestion at a future meeting.

“Absolutely I’d recommend that,” Rinaldi said, adding that in correspondence with area agencies a lot of issues come up as it relates to funding, space and policies which disqualify some victims from services.

One recent development Rinaldi commended the province for is the introduction of bail enforcement teams, such as the one the Greater Sudbury area is slated to receive.

The effort will include an Intensive Serious Violent Crime Bail Team in the North Region consisting of four dedicated assistant Crown attorneys to deal with bail matters and serious violent crimes, including violent repeat offenders within the sexual assault and intimate partner violence spectrum.

Similar to how it’s important to follow up with victims, Rinaldi said that offenders were in many cases past victims, too, and also require after-care.

As part of their duties, he said the bail enforcement team will look into how offenders get to that point, and follow up with them upon their release.

“That’s a very important piece and one we’re looking at new roads ... and investigations into our delivery service not only for the victim but also the accused.”

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for