The true cost of policing
December 8, 2016
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To the Editor:
I have sat back and listened to the rhetoric and to comments from a number of misinformed individuals and I have finally decided to wade into the OPP policing discussion with my own thoughts. I should begin by declaring what some would say is a conflict of interest as I sit as a member of The Saugeen Shores Police Services Board.
I commend my dear colleague and friend Art Knechtel for taking a strong enough interest in Saugeen Shores to voice his opinion on the policing of our community. I however, must dutifully disagree with his misguided opinion. Having served on council as Art did, I do appreciate council wanting to reach out for a consultant’s report in order to claim they have completed due diligence.
If, however, you were given an opportunity to check through the Town’s archives, you would find them littered with consultant reports costing in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, most having never been implemented or used. I hope council decides to use common sense and forgo the expense of another expensive consultant’s report and protect the ratepayers' coffers by using the information readily available to them. In today’s world of instant information and with little effort and no cost to our community, council could easily educate themselves on the possible ramifications of entertaining OPP policing for our Community. The only cost would be a bit of their personal time and effort.
Most, if not all communities of similar size to Saugeen Shores, have many of the same challenges to deal with. I commend Chief Rivett and all of his staff with providing us with one of, if not the best Police Service in the province and I ask ... Why would we wish to jeopardize such a great service?
I hope you and all of council will take the time to search the internet and study the many reports on OPP policing. You will discover as I did a number of reports by numerous consultants from across the province.
Here are several of the consultants' findings:
•We lose our local dedicated police service that we’ve had for more than a century.
•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 for our existing service.
•We lose full-time dedicated community police officers (specialty trained in crime investigation, drug investigation, school programs, mental impairment, trauma, etc.). They will be posted to where OPP feels is the greatest need.
•We get our share of policing spread around with our large neighboring municipalities.
•We no longer receive pro-active policing only re-active (few if any foot patrols or police presence).
•We do not receive 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 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). The OPP have what is referred to as an advisory board or Section 10 as would be the case if OPP was selected to Saugeen Shores.
•We become a “zone” with no more (hopefully no less) policing than that enjoyed by Kincardine, Brockton, Arran Elderslie, South Bruce Peninsula.
•No guaranteed response times to emergency calls – officers could be anywhere above depending on need or call volume.
•Crime rates are likely to increase due to lack of police presence (lack of existing services such as foot patrol, regular RIDE checks, school programs, highway traffic enforcement, and poor response times).
A major challenge that other communities who have changed to OPP policing is ... they cannot go backwards.
The communities of Arran Elderslie and South Bruce Peninsula have asked for Saugeen Shores Police Service to consider doing a costing for policing. Why? We have had to decline. If a community is not happy with the OPP or it gets too expensive later on, you’ve got no option. You’ve got to stick with it. Ask yourself is the above the cost you are prepared to pay for policing? I would hope not!
Remember, Mom and Dad were right ... you get what you pay for.
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Thursday, December 08, 2016