Could Amherstburg get policing out of LaSalle?

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Another option could soon be possible if Amherstburg decides to make a change on how it is policed.

LaSalle council will soon debate whether to offer a police costing to Amherstburg as LaSalle Mayor Ken Antaya approached his council with the idea last week. Antaya believes the county municipalities partner well together and that could extend to a policing partnership between LaSalle and Amherstburg.

“It’s something we’ve discussed off and on since the Windsor option surfaced,” said Antaya.

LaSalle council will discuss possibly giving Amherstburg a police costing Jan. 26.

LaSalle council will discuss possibly giving Amherstburg a police costing Jan. 26.

Antaya said he spoke with Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo and DiCarlo was open to another policing option. The LaSalle mayor said it had to go through his police services board first and the matter would also come before his council at their next meeting Jan. 26.

“In my opinion, we’re simply offering something to our neighbours,” said Antaya.

LaSalle’s main goal would not be to make a lot of money off of Amherstburg, but if both towns can shave money off of their police budgets, all the better.

“We’re not interested in making a million dollars,” said Antaya. “We’re interested in watering down our costs. If we can reduce the costs Amherstburg currently experiences, that’s great too.”

Antaya views the potential costing as an opportunity to provide services to Amherstburg, achieve some savings and obtain a mutually beneficial partnership.

LaSalle residents are very happy with their police service, Antaya noted, and are not interested in a partnership with Windsor.

“They are almost rallying behind their police service,” he said.

If LaSalle were to partner with anyone on policing, Amherstburg might be a better fit, he added.

A regional service would be “terrific,” he noted, but added that talks of regional policing have dated back for years. Antaya, a retired LaSalle CAO, recalled those discussions taking place when he was the CAO in Colchester South, a post he held before assuming the similar one in LaSalle.

“I suspect we’re all just whistling in the wind. I suspect the OPP could blow everyone out of the water in terms of a costing,” he added.

Antaya added LaSalle has always had a good relationship with Amherstburg and they want to see Amherstburg do well.

“Anything we can do for them, we’re there for them,” he said.

DiCarlo pointed out the original motion from Amherstburg council came over a year ago and included seeing if other area municipalities were interested in joining forces. He said Essex was the only one to respond originally, but now is happy to have a second county municipality possibly be interested.

“Now it’s nice to have LaSalle step up too,” said DiCarlo.

Amherstburg’s original motion dealt with trying to lower costs, he added, with options to be considered to involve price and level of service.

“It really comes down to what we are looking for as a town,” said DiCarlo.

In addition to Essex, the OPP and possibly LaSalle, Windsor is another option. One issue that could arise is that Windsor and Amherstburg are not geographically connected, so there could be grey areas in the Police Act. Those issues may not arise in a potential LaSalle option due to the towns being joined.

DiCarlo said Antaya approached him at a meeting just before Christmas where it was mentioned that there was an interest in LaSalle possible putting forth a costing.

“Honestly, it was a short discussion,” said DiCarlo. “He gave me the heads up they were likely interested now.”

DiCarlo said regional policing is an option because it helps spread out costs while giving each municipality some control. He said costs per officer are similar but the savings would result in lessened administrative and infrastructure costs.

“The more people you get into the mix, the more cost effective it comes,” said DiCarlo.

Some municipalities still prefer OPP, he acknowledged, but a regional approach could occur if other municipalities start the process.

“I still think it’s something the region should look at,” said DiCarlo. “If a core of us start the process, maybe more of them will consider it a viable option.”

DiCarlo has stated on multiple occasions that town council will make its decision when it gets all of the costing information before them.

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