Ontario Civilian Police Commission

OCPC gives further details on policing switch approval

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC) granted its approval for Amherstburg to be policed by the Windsor Police Service last month.

Now, they are going into further detail as to why the approval was granted.

In an 11-page report issued last week, the OCPC went into greater detail as to why the Windsor Police Service will oversee the administration of policing in Amherstburg. The decision was made by a three-person panel consisting of associate chair D. Stephen Jovanovic and members Maureen Helt and Matthew Letourneau.

The commission’s decision outlined the background of the process, including the reported savings that came out through the Windsor Police proposal and JPAC recommendation which called for an estimated annual savings of $567,802 “including one-time start-up costs or $2,839,010 over five years.”

The report also stated that Windsor assumes post-retirement benefit costs on a prorated basis depending on years of service.

Amherstburg will enter into a contract with Windsor for four terms of five years each with the ability of either party to withdraw from the contract upon 18 months notice.

“Amherstburg held four public consultation meetings in January 2018 to discuss the Proposal. It appears from a review of the transcripts of the meetings that there was very little support expressed for the Proposal and instead a considerable amount of opposition was voiced,” the commission’s report states. “Similarly, during the Commission’s public meeting the vast majority of citizens spoke against adopting the Proposal, despite the presentations made by Mayor DiCarlo, CAO John Miceli, Mayor Dilkens, Chief Frederick, Deputy Chief Mizuno and others in favour of the Proposal.”

The OCPC stated in its report that adequate and effective policing “requires the provision of necessary staff, administration, equipment infrastructure and facilities to perform, at a minimum, the following police services: crime prevention, law enforcement, assistance to victims of crime, public order maintenance and emergency response.”

The OCPC also stated that the situation between St. Mary’s and Stratford, municipalities which also do not have a contiguous border, to be “vastly different than what has been proposed by Amherstburg and Windsor” thus is “not a particularly useful precedent.”

The decision from the OCPC also outlined that, according to Amherstburg representatives, the RFP was “designed to ensure to the extent possible that there would be little to no disruption to how police services were being provided to the residents of Amherstburg by the APS” and that “in our view, the proposal is consistent with the intention of that design.”

“The WPS Proposal is a testament to the sophistication and complexity of modern day policing. The residents of Amherstburg will continue to enjoy the provision of adequate and effective policing, only at an enhanced level. There will be essentially no reduction in staffing, although there will no longer be the Chief and Deputy Chief positions,” the OCPC’s report states. “Having so found, it is nevertheless incumbent on us to consider the concerns voiced by members of the public both at the four meetings held before the applications were made to the Commission and at the meeting held on June 26, 2018.”

The OCPC’s report also broke down some of the concerns raised by the public, with their viewpoints on them. The OCPC noted it has no authority to order that a referendum be held on the matter, and that “it is up to the council members to gauge public sentiment and respond accordingly.” It also notes that the commission has no authority to challenge resolutions or motions of a municipal council.

The OCPC also noted that the OPP and LaSalle had their own reasons for not submitting proposals, “reasons upon which we cannot comment.”

It was acknowledged by the provincial body that “there was overwhelming opposition to the proposal and near universal support to maintaining the APS (Amherstburg Police Service), its local command structure and in particular the officers working in Amherstburg.” The OCPC report pointed out the concerns over local officers being replaced by officers from Windsor and that the two municipalities have different needs and wants that cannot be reconciled.

“While it is the responsibility of locally elected members of Council to decide how police services are to be provided, it is worth noting that the RFP and the Proposal have addressed many of these concerns. Each current officer has the option of staying in Amherstburg for the balance of his or her career. Attrition will no doubt take place in the future but there is every reason to expect that future officers working in Amherstburg will enjoy the same respect as the current officers,” the OCPC’s report stated.

The loss of the Amherstburg Police Services Board (APSB) was described as a “legitimate concern” but added that the addition of the Amherstburg mayor or “a duly qualified person appointed by council” to serve on the Windsor Police Services Board will give Amherstburg residents “a voice in decisions that will be made about policing in the community.” However, the OCPC noted that it was “perhaps not ideal in terms of local control.”

Regarding the ongoing investigation being performed by the OCPC into the Windsor Police Service and Windsor Police Services Board, the commission noted that “the fact of an investigation does not automatically foreclose our approval of the Proposal. Realistically, the WPS continues to provide policing services to the residents of Windsor on a 24/7 basis. Individual complaints will be dealt with during the course of the investigation which may result in a consent resolution or charges under the PSA which will need to be adjudicated. There is no information before us that suggests the WPS is not currently capable of providing adequate and effective police services to the residents of Amherstburg.”

The OCPC stated that calculating the exact amount of financial savings to Amherstburg “remains somewhat elusive, as is often the situation when dealing with budgets and projections.” The annual savings to Amherstburg, according to what the OCPC states it has been presented, ranges from $567,800 to $881,000. Windsor would absorb post-retirement benefit costs with that ranging from $2.8 million to $3.9 million.

“Surprisingly, very few of the residents who made submissions at the various five public meetings were impressed with the savings estimates. The majority would rather forego any savings and maintain the APS,” the OCPC’s report states, adding it is not the commission’s role to second-guess the financial cost projections of either municipality.

“Some residents expressed concerns about the possibility of police vehicles speeding from Windsor through LaSalle as they responded to emergencies in Amherstburg. This concern is belied by the realities of the Proposal. The virtually identical police services will be provided by the same number of officers from the same police headquarters in Amherstburg. There might be a rare event in Amherstburg that requires additional police resources from Windsor, but that rare event would require the same resources and possibly others such as the OPP if it occurred when the APS existed on its own. Local municipal police forces are often required to assist each other in times of emergencies. There is no reason to believe that if such assistance is required in Amherstburg officers from the WPS will not respond responsibly,” the OCPC stated in its report.

The OCPC noted that once “we are satisfied that adequate and effective police services will be maintained by Amherstburg contracting with Windsor for the provision of its police services and that the abolition of the APS does not contravene the PSA (Police Services Act), there is no reason to withhold consent to that abolition, subject to the severance pay issue.”

The OCPC adds that “Amherstburg must deliver to the Commission a signed copy of the contract with the City of Windsor which substantially implements the Proposal” and “receipt by the Commission of written confirmation from the APSB that an agreement as to severance pay has been made with any member of the APS whose employment is terminated as a result of the abolition. Failing such an agreement, the APSB must provide written confirmation to the Commission that an agreement has been made with such members that any severance pay dispute will be referred to arbitration. If no such agreements are made within 90 days of today’s date the Commission will order that all remaining severance pay disputes will be referred to arbitration.”

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.”

OCPC approves town’s request to switch policing to Windsor

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

It is now official – the Windsor Police Service will be patrolling Amherstburg.

The Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC) has approved the town’s request to dissolve the existing Amherstburg Police Service and contract policing services to Windsor. The OCPC released its decision late Thursday.

“The Commission consents to the Application by the Town and consents to the abolition of the Amherstburg Police Service subject to the following conditions,” the decision from the OCPC read. “The Town must deliver to the Commission a signed copy of the contract with the City of Windsor which substantially implements the proposal” and “written confirmation from the (Amherstburg Police Services) Board that an agreement as to severance pay has been made with any member of the Amherstburg Police Service whose employment is terminated as a result of the abolition. Failing such an agreement, the Town must provide written confirmation to the Commission that an agreement has been made with such members that any severance pay dispute will be referred to arbitration. If no such agreements are made within 120 days of (July 26), the Commission will order that all remaining severance pay disputes will be referred to arbitration.”

The decision by the OCPC came exactly one month after public hearings were held at the Libro Centre where the majority of residents who spoke came out against the switch. It also came one day before the nomination period for the 2018 municipal election closed.

According to a press release issued by the Town of Amherstburg, the Windsor Police Service proposal “proposes that it will deliver significant financial savings to the Town while maintaining and enhancing the current levels of service delivery, building on the exceptional commitment of the APS personal to their home community.”

Amherstburg will incur initial transition costs and then expects to achieve annual cost savings of about $567,000.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said the proposed transition date of Jan. 1, 2019 still appears to be on track “barring any unforeseen circumstances.”

DiCarlo said the proposal saw Windsor police “copies much of Amherstburg” and its policing model so if it wasn’t approved, it would have made him wonder what the town was doing wrong. However, it was approved and that eliminated any shock factor for him.

“My first reaction is that I’m not surprised,” said DiCarlo. “The issue was adequate and effective policing. I guess it’s a little bit of relief.”

The contract between Amherstburg and Windsor is “good to go,” he added, and he noted the conditions laid out by the OCPC. According to the mayor, there is nothing further that town council has to approve as he said the most recent motion essentially approved the switch pending OCPC approval.

“Council was aware at the time we were getting everything we asked for in the contract,” said DiCarlo.

The issues now are to get started on the transition, he added.

“I think the biggest message at this point is we are still committed to making the transition as seamless as possible and make sure all the parties are taken care of,” said DiCarlo.

Const. Shawn McCurdy, president of the Amherstburg Police Association, was also not taken aback by the decision.

“I’m not surprised,” he told the RTT Friday morning.

McCurdy said knowing the criteria and that the OCPC was looking for adequate and effective policing, he was not shocked by their decision.

“Our next step is going to be making sure every member is dealt with fairly under the law and go from there,” said McCurdy.

That could include looking at the job offers from Windsor, severance pay and any other issue that could arise.

“We’ll take whatever legal action is appropriate under the circumstances,” said McCurdy. “I don’t know what that looks like at this point.”

There has been some “mixed reaction” from the APA membership, he added.

“From our perspective, we’re going to continue to provide adequate and effective policing for the community,” McCurdy stated. “We’ll move forward. We have to.”

The Windsor Police Service issued a press release on the matter late Friday morning.

“The Windsor Police Service is excited about the opportunity to provide policing services for the Town of Amherstburg. The Windsor Police Service is committed to providing the residents of Amherstburg the exceptional service they have come to expect, with numerous enhancements on the horizon,” Windsor Chief Al Frederick stated in the release.

According to Windsor police, “this decision marks the beginning of an important partnership that will benefit the citizens of both Windsor and Amherstburg. Through the dedication of our officers and civilian staff, the Windsor Police Service offers outstanding community support and effective policing within our diverse communities.  Our members, which will include Amherstburg officers and civilian staff, are guided by our vision of making a difference in the communities we serve.”

The Windsor Police Service stated that it would like to “thank the many residents of Amherstburg who shared their opinions on policing and public safety.” Windsor police say the “collective effort brought about a great partnership. Moving forward we will continue to collaborate with the Town and its residents to meet the policing expectations of the community and enhance public safety.”

The Windsor Police Service calls it “an exciting partnership that benefits the entire region.”

Town council voted by a 3-2 vote Feb. 26 to contract policing out to the Windsor Police Service. It will be a 20-year contract with options to review every five years.

(NOTE: This story has been updated from its original version with comments from the Windsor Police Service.)

 

Bulk of speakers at OCPC hearing want Amherstburg Police Service to remain

 

 

By Pat Bailey & Ron Giofu

 

Amherstburg residents, as well as the Amherstburg Police Service and Windsor Police Service will have to wait about a month before learning if Windsor will indeed take over the policing of the county municipality.

But if Amherstburg residents get their way, the status quo would remain.

At a special hearing of the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC) at the Libro Centre last Tuesday, only one local resident spoke out in favour of the proposed deal during the morning, afternoon and evening sessions.

John McDonald was the lone resident who lent his support to the proposal. He said if the sharing of equipment and resources result in a financial savings to the town, he’s in favour of council’s decision to give it a try.

The contract is for 20 years, with the ability to review how it’s working out for both parties, every five years. It also allows for each party to opt out of the agreement given 18 months notice. The length of the contract was questioned at the evening meeting, as some seemed unaware that there were review periods every five years.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said the information has been public for some time and that the 20 year period was added due to concerns from residents that five years was not enough. He said the media “zeroed in” on the 20-year term of the contract in its reporting.

But Nancy Atkinson, 73, who’s lived here most of her life had one question to ask.

“Why are we here today?” she asked as she made her submission before the OCPC and about 30 others in attendance.

For Atkinson, the recent announcement of an investigation into the Windsor Police Service should have at least served to postpone the application.

“To have this application move forward at this time does not look to effective and adequate policing for our community,” she said.

Nancy Atkinson presents her submission before the Ontario Civilian Police Commission opposing the takeover of policing in Amherstburg by the Windsor Police Service. (Photo by Pat Bailey)

But WPS Chief Al Frederick said the investigation has no real bearing on whether his police service can provide effective and adequate policing in Amherstburg, the test that they must pass if the OCPC is to approve the application.

The issues, said Frederick, are related to human resources, such as hiring and promotions, not their ability to serve and protect. He told the crowd at the evening session that “all police services are subject to oversight” and that Windsor police are working with investigators. He expects recommendations on how to improve the service to come out of the investigation.

“I embrace that,” said Frederick. “I don’t run from that. It doesn’t frighten me. I’m completely open to this.”

Frederick also told the group that if not for the fact that Amherstburg and Windsor are not contiguous municipalities, they indeed, would not have to appear before the OCPC.

He said since they do not share a border, the OCPC, a civilian watchdog agency that oversees policing in Ontario, must approve the application, based on whether it believes Windsor can provide adequate and effective policing, despite having LaSalle separate the two.

But Atkinson called for respect for the Amherstburg police, a service, she said that has offered a history of effective and adequate policing which has resulted in Amherstburg being named one of the safest communities in Canada on several occasions.

Denise Bondy echoed Atkinson’s call to nix the application.

She said Frederick’s talk of enhancements to services is not needed in a community such as Amherstburg. She said comparing Windsor’s issues of drugs and murder to the problems in a small town like Amherstburg is more or less comparing apples to oranges.

“Windsor Police Service has issues, big city issues like guns, drugs, gangs, murder and violence in the downtown core and all that come with the border crossings,” she said. “To date this year, Windsor has five murders,” she added, “I don’t think Amherstburg has had five murders since the inception of our own police department.”

So, she said they have no need for the enhancements Frederick spoke of which include bomb dogs, tactical teams, etc.

To questions regarding the changes to the current Amherstburg Police Service, Frederick said policing in Amherstburg will not change.

He said the department will employ the same officers and civilian staff they have now. He said Amherstburg incidents will be handled by Amherstburg officers with the only time Windsor would step in, he said, is if the local department needed use of some of Windsor’s experts or special units.

He assured the group no Windsor cruisers will be speeding through LaSalle to respond to local calls.

As far as Frederick is concerned, Amherstburg will enjoy a cost savings of up to $859,000 annually, while council has that number pegged at about $567,000.

In closing, Bondy pleaded with the OCPC to veto the application.

“The Amherstburg Police Service is effective and more than adequate for the needs of our community,” she said. “Please don’t make it less so by approving this application.”

“It’s not broken,” she concluded, “don’t try to fix it.”

Frank Cleminson, a former member of the Amherstburg Police Services Board (APSB), said that the town’s original 2014 motion called for a costing proposal from the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and to solicit local municipalities as to the concept of sharing police services. He outlined the process and stated that a Sept. 14, 2017 letter from the OPP stated that the OPP would not participate in the process, that the town had not responded to several requests from the OPP to meet with council and that a renewed motion of council was requested by Sept. 30, 2017.

Cleminson said the evidence he presented “clearly shows” that “council’s motion of Dec. 14, 2014 was not acted upon by administration nor was the motion ever rescinded” and that “administration failed to respond to multiple requests from the OPP for a meeting.”

Citing quotes form Mayor Aldo DiCarlo in July 10, 2017 media articles, Cleminson contended that DiCarlo “still believed the OPP were about to deliver a costing proposal” and alleged that administration “failed to advise council of the Sept. 30, 2017 deadline to renew its interest with the OPP that resulted from the lack of communication from administration.”

Cleminson was not asking for the OCPC to refuse the town’s application, but not to provide approval “until such time as the town receives another costing proposal from the OPP (which we all know provides adequate and effective municipal policing) or council formally rescinds its motion of Dec. 14, 2014.”

The Sept. 14, 2017 OPP letter, signed by superintendent commander of the municipal policing bureau Marc Bedard and addressed to DiCarlo, states that the OPP utilizes the information manual for the OPP Contract Proposal Process for all contract proposals.

“We have successfully been using this process since 2016 for the 14 Ontario communities that requested an OPP contract proposal,” Bedard’s letter stated. “The process prescribed in your Request for Proposal differs in significant ways from the process described in our manual. As a result the OPP cannot participate in your Request for Proposal.”

Bedard wrote that “we have made several attempts to schedule an initial information session to explain to your council the OPP contract proposal process. Since we have not been provided the opportunity to do so, we recommend that you and your council familiarize yourself with the Information Manual, as it outlines all the steps involved in the contract process. This manual is kept relevant and up to date. Should your municipality still wish to proceed with a contract proposal for OPP policing services according to the timelines and processes described in the Information Manual for the OPP Contract Proposal process, we require a confirmation by way of Council resolution by September 30th, 2017.”

A number of residents at the evening session also voiced concerns with the application to have Amherstburg policing switch to Windsor police while the latter is under investigation by the OCPC.

“I think the commission should take into consideration there are residents who are concerned,” said Gregory Moore.

Moore called for the decision to be put off either until the next council or until the investigation is complete. He also questioned response times and whether Windsor police officers would be working in Windsor, noting that the environment is different in Amherstburg than in Windsor.

Windsor deputy chief Pam Mizuno emphasized that under the proposal, Amherstburg officers would still respond to Amherstburg calls and be based out of the current police station. She added that the number of officers responding to calls in town would not change and that “Windsor police officers will not be speeding through the Town of LaSalle to get to the Town of Amherstburg,” Mizuno said.

Kevin Sprague said he already had concerns but he now has “even more serious concerns” after learning about the OCPC’s investigation into the Windsor Police Service.

“If any of these allegations are found to be accurate as a result of the current investigation, I do not feel that the Windsor Police Service will be capable of providing adequate and effective policing to the Town of Amherstburg,” said Sprague. “The Town of Amherstburg currently has a professional, adequate, effective and efficient policing service that makes Amherstburg one of the safest communities in Canada and switching to the Windsor Police Service at this time would be disturbing and inappropriate based on the current ongoing investigation which has just recently been made public.”

Sprague added he has received quick service when he has had to call the Amherstburg Police Service but has had to wait hours for service in Windsor. He said he does not want the latter level of service coming to Amherstburg.

“This would not be adequate and effective policing,” he stated.

Sprague believed any decision to abolish the Amherstburg Police Service should be delayed until the investigation in Windsor is done and a final report publicly released.

Local resident and lawyer Anthony Leardi cited the issue of severance pay, stating the abolition of the Amherstburg Police Service “involves the contracts of approximately 30 police officers. This is a large number of police officers.”

Anthony Leardi addresses the OCPC hearing during last Tuesday’s evening session. Leardi requested that the OCPC deny the Town of Amherstburg’s request to abolish the Amherstburg Police Service and contract policing services out to the Windsor Police Service.

Leardi added: “The Amherstburg Police Service will cease to exist as a result of council’s decision. That means all of the police officers, the thirty or more of them, have their employment terminated. They would be entitled to severance pay. They have no obligation to seek employment with Windsor Police Services. The submission made by the Town of Amherstburg does not confirm that there are written agreements in place regarding severance pay. In fact, the submission confirms the opposite: there are no agreements in place at all.”

While speaking at the hearing, Leardi quoted a section of the town’s submission and stated “At this stage it is expected that all serving members will accept positions with the Windsor Police Service. If someone chooses not to do so, a suitable settlement will be negotiated for that employee with a fallback to mandatory arbitration if a settlement cannot be agreed upon” and contended that statements confirms that the town has not made any agreement dealing with severance pay.

“If that is the case, then the town has not complied with section 40(1) of the (Police Services) Act,” said Leardi.

Leardi also believed the process used by the town “excluded the OPP from participated.” He also used the Sept. 14, 2017 OPP letter as an example and it was Leardi’s contention that “the Town of Amherstburg specifically prevented the OPP from participating in the process. The Town of Amherstburg did this by failing to submit a request using the OPP Contract Manual. If the Town of Amherstburg had submitted the request using the OPP Contract Manual, then the OPP would have been able to bid on this contract. I am highlighting this fact simply to make it clear that Windsor Police Service was not the only party interested in providing policing services to Amherstburg. The OPP was also interested but was prevented from participating.”

Leardi requested that the OCPC deny the town’s application to abolish the Amherstburg Police Service.

Pat Simone addressed the hearing, stating her comments were her own opinions and “in no way reflect the opinions of any committees that I may sit on.”

“As I stated at the February council meeting, when council was deciding this matter, there is a human rights complaint against the Windsor Police Service and we have now learned that there are a number of other complaints against the Windsor Police Service,” said Simone. “If these are substantiated it indicates that Windsor is antiquated and treats its employees poorly. How do you think Windsor will deal with outside personnel if it is substantiated with their own employees?   I feel that the outcomes of the complaints will have an impact on this contract. If Amherstburg policing moves to Windsor, we will be following Windsor policy and procedures. We need to ensure that we are putting our officers in an environment that is fair and has equal opportunity for all. If we are putting the officers in an unfair work environment this is not adequate and effective for the officers and/or residents.”

Simone added that the Ontario Police Service Act clearly defines the minimum that is requires by a police service to provide “adequate and effective service.” She said while Windsor police may fit the criteria, “I feel the residents of Amherstburg deserve more. Could OPP provide a more adequate and effective force? This will not be known as the OPP made several attempts to speak with council to discuss the town of Amherstburg RFP process but the OPP received no response from council. The residents of Amherstburg deserve the most adequate and effective force. We don’t know if we’re getting that with Windsor if we don’t know what OPP will provide.”

Also questioned was the Windsor police business plan, as Simone noted the last business plan available online is dated 2011-13 and the last annual report was dated 2012. She also questioned response times and the Windsor police’s efficiency.

“My thoughts this evening are not meant to be an emotional appeal but to provide my thoughts on whether this contract will provide adequate and effective policing for Amherstburg. In my opinion there are too many questions and issues that still need to be determined,” said Simone.

Const. Shawn McCurdy, president of the Amherstburg Police Association, said approximately 75 per cent of his membership want to remain with the Amherstburg Police Service.

“Nothing against Windsor. We have an excellent relationship with them,” said McCurdy.

Windsor police chief Al Frederick and deputy chief Pam Mizuno address questions from the public during the evening portion of the OCPC hearings at the Libro Centre June 26.

McCurdy said the association is “actively working” on the severance issue and that the association was assured that everyone would be offered a position with the Windsor Police Association, should the OCPC grant its approval.

OCPC associate chair Stephen Javanovic said they have reviewed transcripts of the four public meetings and the petitions they have been sent. He said their role is to determine whether adequate and effective policing would be obtained under the proposal and to listen to the concerns of the public.

DiCarlo outlined the Windsor Police Services’ proposal, stating Amherstburg will “exist as a distinct entity within the Windsor Police Service,” the town will be policed by the same officers that are currently serving with the Amherstburg Police Service, all officers and civilians will work out of the existing Amherstburg police station and that “despite any problems that might be identified during the OCPC investigation, the policing environment and culture in Amherstburg will remain as it is.”

The mayor stated “the exceptionally high level of public safety in Amherstburg will continue,” the town will “continue to have effective control” of policing, existing staff will be treated fairly, there will be “significant” annual savings with the Windsor proposal providing “significant future cost avoidance,” and added “the contract will provide detailed, practical measures that ensure that Amherstburg could realistically reconstitute a municipal police service in the future.”

 

Town awaiting word from OCPC, contract still to be finalized

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

After daylong meetings Tuesday, the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC) is expected to hand down word in the coming weeks on the town’s policing future.

While those meetings were going on as this issue of the River Town Times was going to press, Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said Monday night said the result will be one of two things – either the switch to the Windsor Police Service is approved or the process ends with a rejection.

“If it’s not approved, we’re done,” DiCarlo said at the end of Monday night’s council meeting, which included a nearly two-hour in-camera session after the public portion ended. “If (the OCPC) does approve it, council has to approve the contract.”

The focus of the OCPC is to decide whether the Windsor Police Service can give adequate and effective policing, he noted.

“For the residents that still aren’t happy with the decision, I don’t want to say that we’re going to dismiss that in any way but, from the OCPC themselves and from the (Police Services) Act, really the only thing at this stage is adequate and effective policing,” said DiCarlo, “not whether you’re happy with council’s decision in that respect.”

The contract negotiations are moving along, he suggested, though the mayor was guarded at what he said due to the in-camera discussions. He said that Windsor has been accommodating with the town’s issues as it relates to service levels and other issues.

“At this stage, I think everything that we needed is there,” said the mayor.

The five town council members that voted “have gotten quite a bit of feedback,” said DiCarlo. Town council voted to proceed with a 20-year contract with the Windsor Police Service at a special meeting Feb. 26. Voting in favour were DiCarlo and councillors Rick Fryer and Leo Meloche while councillors Jason Lavigne and Joan Courtney were opposed. Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale and Councillor Diane Pouget both declared a conflict of interest due to having relatives on the Windsor Police Service.

DiCarlo added that the OCPC has “committed to give us a decision as quickly as they can.” Coverage of yesterday’s meetings will be included in the July 4 issue of the RTT and on the website found at www.rivertowntimes.com.

If the OCPC approves the town’s request to contracting policing to the Windsor Police Service, it is expected to take effect Jan. 1, 2019.