APSB

Rozankovic updates position on policing issue

 

Deputy Mayor candidate Bob Rozankovic has updated his position on the issue of the police switchover from Amherstburg police to Windsor police.

Rozankovic, who currently chairs the Amherstburg Police Services Board, noted he was limited in what he could say when profiled in May, but now that the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC) has rendered its ruling, he has issued the following statement:

“With the OCPC ruling now having ben publicized I can answer the question on the much-debated policing issue with somewhat more detail.

My original answer was “as a member of the APSB I am limited in what I can say at this time. Ultimately it is the decision of council as to the direction the town takes. Certainly, there are both pros and cons and I have the ultimate respect for all councilors that voted on this difficult issue, no matter their individual preference.” Also “as a member of JPAC, I can say we attempted to address all concerns put forth by all stakeholders including residents, police officers, and administration. All facts were clearly presented without bias for council’s decision-making process.”

Whether to contract out policing or not is a generational issue and not simply an exercise in “what is cheaper”. The public meetings that were held fully showed the depth of emotional involvement by this community with its police service. Though, by far, most speakers at the meetings preferred to maintain police service in its current form, I know there were many who preferred the switch to Windsor. Whether the majority wished to switch, or not, no one can say with certainty. And therein lies the dilemma. As I stated previously, this is a generational issue. A “one-shot” deal to get the decision right because there will not be a chance to reverse the decision at a later date. Let’s be clear, the Amherstburg Police Service will never be reconstituted. At the end of the first five-year term Amherstburg will pay Windsor whatever they ask or Amherstburg will need to contract the OPP for service.

Though I am not a proponent of referendums in most cases, I believe a this is one of those rare times. If we had submitted a request to the province by March 1st, we could have had this issue on our ballots for the October 22nd election. This would have pushed the contract start date to July 2019. A very small delay to ensure a correct decision.

There are current councilors who feel that referendums are not worthwhile, that the general public isn’t knowledgeable enough to make these decisions. I beg to differ. The general public will be knowledgeable and will be intelligently engaged if they are provided with valid information. That is particularly true for an issue such as this one. Furthermore, there are times when emotional connection is more important than saving money.

I don’t profess to know whether the majority wanted a switch or not. I do know that in door to door campaigning I am getting many different opinions.

The fact that a three to two vote, with two abstensions, decided this important issue is so sad. How could a referendum have been any worse? At the very least, council would have known the will of the people.”

Amherstburg Police Services Board, council take no further position on WPS investigation

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Town council took no position on an ongoing investigation into the Windsor Police Service and Windsor Police Services Board (WPSB) and the Amherstburg Police Services Board (APSB) took a similar position or lack thereof.

The two hastily-called meetings in Amherstburg Thursday afternoon and evening were due to the investigation by the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC), the same body that will be holding public hearings June 26 at the Libro Centre over the town’s proposed contracting out of policing services to Windsor.

According to a news release put out by Windsor police last Wednesday, Chief Al Frederick and the WPSB were notified that the OCPC has initiated an investigation under section 25 of the Police Services Act with Frederick and the WPSB advising they “intended to fully co-operate with this investigation.”

“The Ontario Civilian Police Commission initially advised the Windsor Police Service and the Windsor Police Services Board that the investigation should be kept confidential.  However, in view of the upcoming Public Hearing related to contract policing in Amherstburg, the Ontario Civilian Police Commission has now recommended that we disclose the fact that an investigation has been initiated relating to internal policies and promotional matters,” the release stated. “The Commission maintains a strict separation between its investigative and adjudicative functions.  Accordingly, the Windsor Police Service and the Windsor Police Services Board believe the fact that an investigation has been initiated is irrelevant to the Commission’s mandate, which is to determine whether the Windsor Police Service contract policing proposal will ensure the provision of adequate and effective policing services to the residents of Amherstburg.”

It was stated that from January 2018 to April 2018, the OCPC “received multiple complaints from members of the Windsor Police Service” and “these complaints raise serious concerns about the workplace environment of the WPS, the administration of the WPS, and the oversight provided by the Windsor Police Services Board.”

The OCPC decided to conduct an investigation May 4. Items being investigated include whether the promotional processes, particularly to administration rank positions, are fair and transparent and whether the Board exercises appropriate oversight of those promotional processes; whether the hiring processes relating to the potential hiring of relatives are fair

and transparent; whether the Board is appropriately informed about administration issues relating to its mandate, including the promotional processes involving candidates for senior administration; whether there has been improper interference in specific legal proceedings and whether any such interference has been initiated, encouraged, and/or sustained by the current administration of the WPS and/or the Board; whether a poisoned work environment has been created, encouraged, and/or sustained by the current administration of the WPS in relation to workplace policies and/or accommodation requests; whether the WPS has fair and transparent processes to address workplace harassment and human rights complaints; and whether the Board is fulfilling its statutory oversight role in relation to the latter two items.

Councillor Jason Lavigne, Mayor Aldo DiCarlo and Amherstburg Police Services Board (APSB) chair Bob Rozankovic listen to comments made by the public at last Thursday’s APSB meeting.

Bob Rozankovic, chair of the APSB, said he was tempted to cancel this meeting but decided to keep it scheduled to see if the board wanted to make any sort of resolution.

“The board has no say in the matter,” he said. “We have no say in the decision of council.”

Councillor Jason Lavigne, who joins Mayor Aldo DiCarlo as council representatives on the board, said the council meeting featured Frederick and Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkins and emphasized there have been allegations laid but no actual findings have been discovered.

“We are not part of Windsor, we are not part of the investigation. These are allegations at this point,” said Lavigne.

Lavigne said the OCPC didn’t want to come to Amherstburg June 26 and have the investigation become an issue if news of it were to leak out and wanted the town to know about it.

“They wanted to make sure no bombshells were dropped at the hearing,” Rozankovic added.

George Kritiotis, one of the residents at the meeting, raised various questions and comments including about body camera’s (“In general, they keep everyone in check.”), where new applicants would apply to and the investigation itself. New applicants, he was told, would apply to the Windsor Police Service, he was told. Questions raised over the investigation were met with the reply that the APSB can’t provide any comment anyway.

“Even if we did have the facts, it’s not up to us to judge the Windsor Police Service or the Windsor Police Services Board,” said Rozankovic.

Kritiotis questioned morale of the officers that would be joining Windsor and further asked whether the Amherstburg officers would be impacted should the OCPC grant the go-ahead for the service to be contracted to the city.

Denise Bondy added she wanted the town to show it cares “about the men and women who serve us” and also wondered about the collective agreements for the officers. The Amherstburg Police Service would officially dissolve Jan. 1, 2019 if contracting out the service is approved provincially and officers would work out of Amherstburg as Windsor police officers.

A number of the questions and concerns raised by members of the public at the APSB meeting dealt with other issues as well, including severance pay for Amherstburg officers, with Amherstburg Chief Tim Berthiaume stating that issue is still being worked on and that it could come up in arbitration if unresolved by Jan. 1, 2019.

Councillor Jason Lavigne speaks during the special Amherstburg Police Services Board meeting held June 14.

Nancy Atkinson questioned DiCarlo as to how he felt when he walked into the mayor’s job in a difficult work environment.

“That is what you are asking our police officers to do and I don’t understand,” said Atkinson.

DiCarlo, emphasizing that there are only allegations at this point against Windsor police, said he chose to enter the fray as mayor four years ago. He said Amherstburg had to endure a similar situation with the fire department and called in the Ontario Fire Marshal’s office to investigate. Recommendations were then adopted by the town and he said the same could hold true in Windsor if any issues are revealed or confirmed by the OCPC.

The town council meeting was made public about 30 minutes before the start of it, the mayor added, as it turned out no additional information was gained prior to the meeting to necessitate council going in-camera.

Rozankovic added there are over 600 employees with the Windsor Police Service and allegations have been raised by anywhere from 2-5 people.

Lavigne added the June 26 hearing is to decide whether Windsor police can provide adequate policing to the town.

“They don’t want to hear that you don’t like it,” he said.

Rozankovic aiming to be the next deputy mayor

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Bob Rozankovic has his eyes on the deputy mayor’s position and believes the time is right to pursue it.

Rozankovic is running for that job in the Oct. 22 municipal election and has been accumulating a resume of municipal involvement over the last four years. He has been on the Amherstburg Police Services Board (APSB) and is the current chair. He has also chaired the former economic development committee.

Believing there is “going to be a lack of returning experience” on town council, Rozankovic cited that as a reason he is running for deputy mayor.

“I think the deputy mayor needs to be able to fill in for the mayor when the mayor is not available,” he said, “not just at council but at events around town as such.”

Rozankovic said he wants to see the growth of the town continue. He said a lot of open discussion and positive momentum came out of economic development committee’s “Mayor’s Breakfast” with local realtors three years ago.

“It goes to show how much can be achieved with honest and open discussion with as many stakeholders as possible,” he stated.

“There is so much work left to do and I feel that I have a lot to contribute to the process,” he stated. “I have a good working relationship with the current mayor and administration. Not always agreeing, but always having intelligent discourse.”

Rozankovic, a sales manager in the tool and die industry, believes finances have “turned around in the sense that we know exactly where we stand and we can plan ahead. We need to make decisions on solid business cases, always ensuring that residents get the maximum value for their tax dollars.”

Bob Rozaknovic is running for deputy mayor in the Oct. 22 municipal election

The next term of council will be critical, he said.

“I truly believe the next council is going to set the tone for the future of Amherstburg,” he said. “The last four years have been good but the next four years will be pivotal.”

Ensuring the town assists business startups, local organizations, and festivals is critical to developing a community that people want to live in and people want to move to, he added.

“We have to be branded as a community that is thriving, inviting, and progressive, while at the same time maintaining heritage that is at the core of who we are,” he said.

Rozankovic added: “We want to be the premier retirement community in Southwestern Ontario, and we can be just that. But we must commit to a strategic plan for this to be accomplished.”

Rozankovic would also sit on county council, if elected. He believes county council “does a fair job,” particularly with regards to infrastructure but also thinks the library strike “was mishandled badly.” His objectives would be to ensure Amherstburg’s concerns are lobbied for and also to help lobby the province for more infrastructure funding.

On the policing issue Rozankovic stated, “as a member of the APSB I am limited in what I can say at this time. Ultimately it is the decision of council as to the direction the town takes. Certainly there are both pros and cons and I have the ultimate respect for all councillors that voted on this difficult issue, no matter their individual preference.”

Rozankovic added “as a member of JPAC, I can say we attempted to address all concerns put forth by all stakeholders including residents, police officers, and administration. All facts were clearly presented without bias for council’s decision making process.”

There is a lot of “negative energy” around decision-making and Rozankovic said he will provide “leadership that addresses the root causes of voter dissatisfaction and redirect negative political energy into positive outcomes.”

Amherstburg police business plan meeting sees concerns raised over police costings, unlocked vehicles

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A public meeting on Amherstburg Police Services 2017-19 business plan resulted in a lot of concerns over unlocked vehicles and the upcoming police costings.

The meeting was held last Wednesday morning at the Libro Centre with Chief Tim Berthiaume presenting statistics on the police service and seeking public input. Berthiaume pointed out the service’s motto “People Just Like You” and told the people in attendance that “you pay our bills. This is your police service.”

The Amherstburg Police Services has 31 sworn officers, including Berthiaume, and three civilian members though one of the civilians – a special constable – has their salary and benefits shared by the LaSalle Police Service.

Berthiaume said the service is one of the cheapest in Ontario when compared to services of a similar size and also credited the community for making Amherstburg one of the safest communities in Canada.

“You have one of the safest communities in Canada and I think that’s something to be proud of,” the chief stated. He added that “rarely can we solve crimes without the help of the community.”

Susan Monaghan raised the issue of the police costings, stating she saw a petition in a coffee shop. She asked what would be the most effective way to raise concerns on the issue. Berthiaume said it is a decision of town council whether to switch police services once the costings come in. He suggested the best way would be to call or e-mail members of council.

Berthiaume noted that the moratorium on OPP costings was lifted earlier this year but it is expected to take two to three years before the town actually receives a costing.

Even if the town were to eventually switch, Berthiaume said Amherstburg police would continue with the job they are doing right up until the final day.

“We are going to continue to deliver the most cost-effective police service we can to the residents of Amherstburg. Even if the OPP were to come in, we would do that right until the last day.”

Deputy Chief Ian Chappell, who spent 15 years with the OPP, praised them as a very good service that does the big things well. However, he said it would not be guaranteed that the community would see the same officers daily if the OPP were to come in and he believes there is value of the community seeing the same officers regularly.

Some larger services don’t send an officer for break-ins or thefts, he added, preferring to have people call in their reports.

Aburg Police Logo Rev-web

“In a smaller police service, we send an officer. In my opinion, there is value to that,” said Chappell.

Norm Mickle was one of the residents in attendance and he said one way to fill the room would be to touch the police service. He called the idea of switching police services a bad one.

“It’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of – getting rid of the best police service in all of Canada,” said Mickle.

Mickle suggested people start contacting town officials now about keeping the service, believing it would be a “huge mistake” to switch to OPP. Berthiaume said it’s not a competition between Amherstburg police and OPP but plans to give council the most detailed information possible on the current service.

The chief added an OPP bid will be cheaper but said the OPP is a different model of policing. Amherstburg police has to keep a certain number of officers on the road at any one time 24 hours a day, seven days per week.

“We can’t take officers from other areas,” said Berthiaume.

The attendance at the meeting was raised as less than ten people attended. Berthiaume said over 200 flyers were distributed in the business community and that it was advertised as well. He said such meetings are usually poorly attended.

“We’ve always had a dismal turnout,” he said.

Berthiaume added he is open to other ideas on how to attract more people.

“As chief, I’m not sure what else I can do to get people out but I’m willing to listen,” he said.

The issue of thefts from vehicles was also raised during the meeting, with Berthiaume pointing out there has been an “unprecedented level of thefts” from vehicles and that those arrested have ranged from youths to adults, some of whom come from outside the town.

“It’s a preventable crime,” he said.

Chappell pointed out officers checked vehicles one night in the Golfview subdivision and of 180 vehicles checked, 27 per cent of them were found to be unlocked. Officers put “Lock it or Lose it” pamphlets in the unlocked cars.

The next public meeting for the police department’s business plan is Oct. 18 at the Libro Centre starting at 7 p.m.