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Canton Police Chief highlights dual Family Weekends in fall plans

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CANTON— Three weeks into September, as St. Lawrence University and SUNY Canton both kick off their respective Family Weekends, Canton’s population will jump considerably.

As additional people flood into the village, the number of calls to police increase with them, said Canton Police Chief Victor N. Rycroft. That’s why he met with officials from both colleges this week to plan for what he admits could be a “hectic” Sept. 21 through Sept. 23 weekend, as well as the annual late-August return of students.

“That’s a substantial influx of people. If they had 800, 900 freshmen in each school [...] and you have one or two parents each, what have you done?” Chief Rycroft said. “You’ve tripled your population.”

Though he doesn’t expect a specific increase in crime with family members in town, extra officers could be needed to respond to traffic accidents or other minor calls for police assistance, he said. For that reason, he’s asked Canton police department members not to request leave during that specific weekend.

“With everybody working that weekend, it’ll give us two men per shift,” Chief Rycroft said. “It’s difficult for one individual.”

Though he is new to the job, having been appointed temporary chief in mid-June, Chief Rycroft said the bulk of policies and practices established between the different forces will remain the same.

On Wednesday he met with Patrick W. Gagnon, director of security and safety at St. Lawrence University; he met with SUNY Canton Police Chief Lisa E. Colbert earlier in the week. Mr. Gagnon declined to comment about the meeting, and Ms. Colbert couldn’t be reached for comment.

As an example of retained policies, a Canton police officer will attend St. Lawrence University’s freshman orientation on Aug. 26 to participate in a question-and-answer session and interact with new students, which officers have done for several years in a row.

Sometimes, such as during incidents reported at SUNY Canton’s off-campus housing, station jurisdictions can cross. In those events, Chief Rycroft said Ms. Colbert asked only to be kept informed.

“Their position is that’s just an extension of campus,” Chief Rycroft said. “Should events take place that need our attention, they’re asking that we contact them and advise them.”As a longtime Canton resident who graduated from Canton High School, Chief Rycroft believes he has an advantage dealing with the fall transitional period, even though it’s his first fall on the job.

Brushing shoulders with college students can be difficult for Canton residents, Rycroft said, but isn’t a new challenge.

“For the most part, the village residents expect certain things,” Chief Rycroft said, noting increased foot traffic and noise later at night “When it happens they’re not surprised, and when it’s quiet they’re truly amazed.”

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