There will be no turning back
by Sandy Lindsay

November 22, 2016


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Saugeen Shores Council recently voted to defer a motion that requested a costing for a consultant to look at the Ontario Provincial Polices services (OPP). Defer doesn't mean off the table however, as the CAO said that staff will look into the request and come back to council with a possible choice and cost.

Owen Sound has recently done the same thing to the tune of between $30,000 to $40,000.

Perhaps, it's time to use the free internet.

In September (2016), we wrote an editorial after thoroughly researching the subject of communities who had either changed to OPP services or were looking at the costs for doing so.  Perhaps, it's time to re-read this.

In the OPP's “how costings work” handbook a quote is for an “integrated model” on an “interim basis”.  In other words, a quote provided is only guaranteed for 3 years. Beyond that, nobody can predict what the costs will be. By then, in all likelihood, there will be a new council and probably a new Provincial government.

Unfortunately, those communities that disbanded their local police on the strength of a three-year quote have no option to opt out and start up a police service from scratch again.  Nobody has done it because it is simply too expensive.

How much each individual OPP officer is paid, is out of the control of communities as salaries are negotiated by the province and, also according to OPP requirements, officers "... may be placed anywhere at any time in your career as required by the OPP.

In Aylmer, ON for instance, an agricultural community of 7,000, it has a force of 13 OPP who will each make $93,357 in 2016, which according to reports is $2,600 more than the equivalent officers in urban London are paid.  Is the crime rate in London more than Aylmer?  I would think so.

Local police live in their community, pay taxes, raise their children, support the economy, get to know people, get to know 'troublemakers', know their laneways inside and out.

 2016 OPP Base Salaries

Recruit Constable (5th Class)  From the first day of training  $ 49,751.00
Probationary Constable (4th Class)  After graduation from training  $63,434.00

Constable (3rd Class)  $72,501.00
Constable (2nd Class)  $80,658.00
Constable (1st Class) After 36 months $90,621 (plus)

In Norfolk County Police Services Board Chair Peter Hellyer said in 2014, that his community of 60,000 people ended up paying $1 million more for the same exact same police service it had the year before, putting Norfolk's total police budget to $14 million.  "You don't really have any choice. It's the difference between having to pay and wanting to pay," he said. "Almost every police officer in Norfolk County will be on the 'sunshine list', which means they'll make over $100,000 a year." 

According to a report by OPP Superintendent Rick Philbin, after two years without receiving a general increase in wages (2012, 2013), OPP officers received an increase of 8.55 per cent in 2014 to raise the salary of an OPP Provincial Constable to be equal to that of the highest paid police service in the province. The OPP had to recover these costs in the municipalities it polices causing considerable budget restraints.

 What is difficult to understand is that almost everyone says they are more than satisfied with our local police force,(72%), that they do an excellent job, that it is about more than money, that local police are the preferred option ... and yet, it appears that people who make the most noise about wanting another police service are getting their way, even though they seem to be the minority. 

Click the orange arrow to read the second column

In an analogy someone recently said to me, "let's say your grocery bill is $100 a week.  Sure, you can cut back but ... will you have the same nutritious food on your table?  Don't think so."

Below are links that explore the question of OPP services:

Midland Police Sr. Officer speaks about OPP costing process

Smiths Fall abandons OPP costing process

Switch to OPP to save money? Ask Tiny Township

Brockville OPP costing not as planned

Midland is currently going through the same situation as Saugeen Shores and below is a recap as that community sees it:

  • We lose a wide variety of dedicated services that we have grown accustomed to and expect as part of our safe community.
  • We lose millions in buyouts and top up costs.
  • We pay for retrofits or build a whole new detachment on Town land somewhere.
  • We lose autonomy of a police services board that can actually direct the strategic policing goals, hire and negotiate the chief’s salary as well as negotiate the salaries of the whole police service (uniform and civilians alike).
  • We lose full-time dedicated community police officers.
  • We get our share of policing spread around with our large neighbouring municipalities
  • We don’t get any new services that we don’t already have for free (paid for by our Provincial taxes) such as helicopters, bomb squads, marine units, police dogs, swat teams etc
  • We sign a three-year deal without ANY assurances of what year four and beyond will look like
  • We become a “zone” with no more (hopefully no less) policing than that enjoyed by Tiny, Tay, Penetanguishene and parts of Georgian Bay Townships
  • No guaranteed response times to emergency calls – officers could be anywhere above depending on need or call volume

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Tuesday, November 22, 2016