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Project LEARN ends with almost double the charges

Ivana Pelisek | Interrobang | News | October 14th, 2008

Racking up over 1,500 charges, provincial and criminal, over the last five weeks, London Project LEARN has completed its final week.

From August 28 to October 4 2008 a special team of London Police officers patrolled primarily the areas in and around Fanshawe College, The University of Western Ontario and the Downtown core.

Conducting the Project has kept Police busy for the five straight weeks it was in effect. Fleming Dr. area was particularly bad therefore giving students who reside in that area and attend Fanshawe a bad name.

"While we continue to work with the community on this issue, we are also very cognizant of the fact that a few bad students (and non-students who live in the area) have tarnished the image of thousands of responsible students," said Manager of Marketing and Communications Emily Marcoccia.

Looking back during the weeks of Project LEARN:

- August 31 students around Fleming Dr. area set couches on fire while causing a disturbance. Fire fighters had to be escorted in by Police due to students and non-students throwing beer bottles in their direction.

- A 19 year-old non-Fanshawe student, charged with one count of injury to an animal contrary to the criminal code and one count of being intoxicated while out in public

- A student's left orbital bone was fractured as a result of a struggle with London Police

- During the fourth week of Project LEARN, Brendon Walsh, 20, of Nixon, Adam Flood, 20, of London, Tyler Closs, 20, of London, Alexander Cameron, 19, of London, Blake Hetherington, 21, of London, Robert Gallo, 19 years of London, all students, are all charged with unlawful assembly (legal term to describe a group of people with the mutual intent of deliberate disturbance of the peace).

- Benjamin Radusin, 19, of London, a non-student, is charged with causing a disturbance and possession of marijuana.

Upon completion of Project LEARN, officers laid 1,448 Provincial Offence Act charges and By-law offences and 130 Criminal Code charges.

Of the 1,448 Provincial Offence Act charges laid, 1052 were students and 396 were non-students.

Of the 130 Criminal Code charges laid 53 were students and 77 were non-students.

Last year, police laid a total of 827 Provincial charges and only 33 Criminal Code charges.

When asked if the London Police would have done anything differently with how Project LEARN was run, Constable Amy Phillipo responded by saying, "no we would not have done anything differently. The project went as anticipated and was very successful."

The response has been a positive one from members of the community who feel strongly about Fanshawe's involvement with Project LEARN.

"The correspondence we received from community members was overwhelmingly supportive of the College's efforts to try and influence behaviour (positively). The community members who wrote the College seemed to support the Police and the College but there were concerns expressed that some landlords and some students were not being held accountable. There have also been comments made about parents not intervening; this of course is not something we have control over in an adult learning environment," said Marcoccia.

The Project has proven to be a successful one and the London Police are thrilled they took a zero tolerance approach while ticketing individuals and making arrests.

"We will be continuing with Project L.E.A.R.N. for the spring of 2009 but will not be disclosing any future operational plans," added Phillipo.
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