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Police chief takes steps to improve perception of Barrie's downtown

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Barrie's top police officer is weighing in on the condition of the city's downtown, saying that despite some high-profile crimes in the area, the numbers are improving.

Barrie Police Chief Rich Johnston is working with the Business Improvement Association (BIA) to change the narrative surrounding the downtown core.

"I can advise you that since 2018, we've seen a continued decrease in the level of crime harm, that is, the more serious crime that would affect the community," the chief said.

Johnston said every option to create a safer downtown is on the table and encourages residents and those in the business community to voice suggestions, such as increased lighting and more police patrols.

BIA Chair Heather Kennedy said teaming up with the police chief to address the problems plaguing the downtown couldn't come at a better time, with summer just around the corner.

"We want to focus on the fact that we're going to have a lot more out-of-town guests in the next little while, and we want to make sure that the perception, not only for our Barrie residents but our out-of-town residents, is that the downtown is a safe place to be," Kennedy said.

Chief Johnston said residents would notice short-term improvements with longer-term approaches in the coming months.

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