Petitioner aiming to keep police force local

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A local resident has started a petition aiming at keeping the Amherstburg Police Service and not have policing contracted out to the OPP or a regional service.

Darlene Meloche wants the town to “leave well enough alone” and not switch to another police service. Meloche said she has gone door-to-door with husband Kevin gathering signatures and have them in several local businesses as well. Those businesses include Kin Folk restaurant, Downtown Espresso Café, Romano’s, Maria’s Restaurant, Beckett’s Variety, Canadian Tire Gas Bar and Mon Sherry flower shop.

Meloche said the petition was started over the Jan. 24-25 weekend and, as of last Thursday, had over 75 signatures.

Darlene Meloche is circulating a petition to keep policing local and not go regional or with OPP.

Darlene Meloche is circulating a petition to keep policing local and not go regional or with OPP.

“We are a small community and want to remain a small community,” said Meloche. “The citizens of Amherstburg feel safe because of the dedication provided by our fine men and women of our Amherstburg police force. The record stands for itself. Without this fine group of men and women, Amherstburg would not have been deemed the safest community in Canada for three straight years. (The safest community designation) didn’t get that way by poor policing.”

Acknowledging the town’s debt, Meloche added there should be other ways out of it rather than regionalizing the police service or switching to OPP.

“There has got to be ways to get the debt down without regionalizing anything.”

Meloche feared regionalization of other services if policing is changed.

“If they do policing, where is it going to end?” she asked. “Nothing against the OPP or Windsor, but we just want to keep it local. If they take little by little, we are not going to have anything.”

“Leave our police department alone,” added Kevin. “You can depend on them.”

Meloche said her encounters with local police officers have been “very friendly” and “whenever you call them, they are there.” She said she didn’t want to see a situation where out-of-town officers are rotated into Amherstburg and not have an understanding of the community.

“The men and women in Amherstburg know the area,” she said.  “They’ve been here for years.”

An OPP costing isn’t expected until at least late summer with Windsor reportedly preparing a costing as well. Meloche said she is starting early to gain as many signatures as she can and pledged to work through the summer if she has to. She acknowledged there may be a cost savings “but what kind of service are you going to get?

“Cheaper is not always better.”

Anyone wishing more information can contact Meloche at 519-736-9305.

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