Perth County OPPDetective Sergeant Tara Bolstad (left) of the Perth County OPP cuts the ribbon alongside North Perth Mayor Todd Kasenberg for the new victim interview room at the North Perth Municipal Office and OPP detachment. The room is located just outside of the police headquarters. July 10, 2024 (Photo by Ryan Drury)

OPP unveil new victim interview room

The Perth County OPP hosted a grand opening on July 10 for a new victim interview room at the North Perth OPP detachment, which is housed in the municipal office.

Detective Sergeant Tara Bolstad, who spearheaded the new space, says the room was a collaboration between Victim Services and the municipality, and she's hoping the new room encourages more people to come forward to the police regarding things like domestic violence or sexual assaults. She says it was important to keep victims in mind and at the forefront of the new design.

"You have people coming forward that are sharing some really intimate details and really personal experiences, and that can be really challenging itself, and when you're in a cold room, and the furniture doesn't move and it's a really small space, that's really hard to get somebody to open up," explained Detective Sergeant Bolstad. "So it was important to have comfortable furniture, and just a really safe space that people can come in and be able to relax."

The new room features softer paint tones, new comfortable furniture, and a children's play table.

Victim Services Huron and Perth, Huron-Perth Children's Aid Society, Optimism Place, and the Municipality of North Perth were all partners in helping make the new room a reality for the OPP. The room was also made possible with a $100,000 Victim Services Grant the Perth County OPP received, and $12,500 of that was used for the North Perth victim interview room. The rest was used for other initiatives and upgrades in local OPP detachments.

Detective Sergeant Bolstad adds that the OPP want to let the community know that they are here to listen, and the new interview room is an effort to make what can be a very difficult and intimidating process that much more easy on victims of very traumatic crimes.

"We're really open to working with our community and working with the public to meet their needs. So whenever it's their time, whenever they feel ready, we're here to listen to them. So we just really want to be open and encourage anybody to come forward," Detective Sergeant Bolstad explained. "Just coming forward is such a strong step, and takes a lot of courage, and I wanna commend anybody who has, or is considering coming forward, or maybe isn't ready yet but is thinking about it. Also, when you come in, that doesn't have to be the day you share your story. If you just wanna come in and see the space, I encourage anyone to just come ask to see the space, and maybe it'll encourage you to come forward."

North Perth Mayor Todd Kasenberg was on hand to do the ribbon cutting. He says he feels the room is a very welcome addition to the community, and he's hopeful it has a very positive impact for victims who need it.

"To try to make that encounter with police, in what is often the most difficult moments of someone's life, more cordial, more welcoming, more supportive and less traumatizing, I think that's very valuable," Kasenberg stated.

The project was so important to Detective Sergeant Bolstad that she actually hand painted it herself and organized the look and furniture. She adds that it is an incredibly important new feature with the goal of supporting victims.

"We created this space with trauma-informed care in mind. By creating a comfortable and supportive environment people can feel both physically and emotionally safe to share their story. The room is equipped with things that you would not typically find in a police interview room and is the first of it's kind in Perth County," added Detective Sergeant Bolstad.

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