Windsor Police Service

Windsor Police appoints Officer in Charge for Amherstburg Detachment

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

There will be a new face at the helm when the Windsor Police Service takes over policing duties in town Jan. 1.

The Windsor Police Service announced last Friday that the Officer In Charge of the Amherstburg Detachment, effective January 1, 2019, will be Staff Sergeant Dave DeLuca.

According to a media release issued Friday afternoon by Windsor police, “Staff Sergeant DeLuca is a lifelong Amherstburg resident who knows the community and has a first-hand understanding of their concerns and expectations.”

Since being hired as a cadet in 1995, DeLuca has worked in many areas of the Windsor Police Service, including patrol division, forensic identification branch, drug enforcement branch, street crimes unit, domestic violence, internet child exploitation unit, and most recently, the special projects unit as he works toward the transition for the Amherstburg Detachment.

Staff Sgt. Dave DeLuca will be in charge of Windsor police’s Amherstburg detachment as of Jan. 1.

The Windsor Police Service states that it “is looking forward to working together with the residents of the Town of Amherstburg with the goal of public safety. We are committed to working together to prevent and investigate crime, and provide support to those in need.”

“It is a privilege to be chosen as the Officer in Charge of the new Amherstburg Detachment of the Windsor Police Service and to be part of this milestone moment for the town of Amherstburg. I look forward to the opportunity to work in my hometown and continue the tradition of exceptional police service that the residents have come to expect and enjoy,” said DeLuca.

The Town of Amherstburg signed the contract with the Windsor Police Service last month. It is for 20 years with it being reviewable every five years.

Tim Berthiaume, the current Amherstburg police chief, says WPS have offered him employment in Windsor at the rank of Superintendent commencing July 1.

“My plan, for now, is to accept the offer and work in Windsor,” Berthiaume stated.

 

 

 

Job offers to Amherstburg police officers delayed

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Job offers to Amherstburg police officers were delayed, but it does not appear the delay will be a long one.

Offers from the Windsor Police Service were scheduled to come out last Saturday but now appear to be coming this week instead. Const. Shawn McCurdy, president of the Amherstburg Police Association (APA), said the delay was “for a short period of time” and that was all they were told.

“We received a memo from (Windsor police) Chief Frederick outlining that,” he said.

According to McCurdy, “there was a scheduled job offer and that has been delayed at the request of Mayor DiCarlo.”

McCurdy told the RTT last Thursday that they were scheduled to receive an update yesterday.

“From the information we’re receiving, there’s a disagreement as it relates to severance and the understanding of the arbitrator’s decision,” said McCurdy. “From the association’s perspective, we’re not sure what the disagreement is. We’re quite clear on what it means. Our position is we’re entitled to severance and that has been our position.”

Members who elect not to take a position with the Windsor Police Service would receive four weeks for every year of service, he said. McCurdy added it’s a decision for each individual member to make but he expects most officers to take the offer.

“I am going to accept a position with Windsor. I am not going to accept severance,” said McCurdy. “A majority of employees will be accepting positions. It’s common sense. We can’t go without a job.”

McCurdy noted that he sat on the Joint Police Advisory Committee (JPAC) and that the possibility of severance has existed since last December. He said they are bound by the Police Services Act that all officers would have to have the same collective agreement.

“That’s what this struggle is all about,” he said.

McCurdy added they do not want to dispute anything in the media, and that the APA deals with the Amherstburg Police Services Board (APSB).

“That’s who we are going to deal with to resolve this matter,” he said.

“Windsor police has been more than accommodating and professional with us,” McCurdy continued. “This has nothing to do with their side.”

APSB chair Bob Rozankovic confirmed that “offers were delayed but are being delivered to APS this Tuesday and Thursday. The board had not been told why they were delayed. Possibly Town Administration can answer that.”

Rozankovic added that “once formal offers are received, then the process can move forward.”

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo stated last Friday that he cannot legally discuss any police issues at the current time. He added he could not confirm any issues relating to severance including whether Frederick contacted local officers.

At one of the two hotel announcements the previous week, the mayor stated that severance may only come into play if an Amherstburg officer is asked to take less to stay employed.

“The language in the collective agreement is referred to in the decision. If the town does not equalize or provide equal rank compensation salary, then the severances would kick in,” DiCarlo told the media after the second of two hotel announcements Oct. 19. “We maintain the position if we equalize everything between the two contracts, there would be no severances.”

DiCarlo also stated Oct. 19 that there will be $14-$15 million in savings over the 20-year contract and that there would be savings for the town “no matter what,” even if severances had to be paid out.

 

 

 

Amherstburg-Windsor police switch sparks protest

 

 

By Christian Bouchard

 

The town’s much debated switch to the Windsor Police Service reached a conclusion last Friday, sparking a protest.

A group of about 12 protestors rallied to town hall in support of the Amherstburg police this past Sunday.

Lisa Scott, an advocate for the Amherstburg police helped organise the protest because of the decision to merge with the Windsor Police service.

“We do not want this deal with Windsor at all,” said Scott. “It’s not going to save us money, it’s going to cost us money. Why fix what’s not broken?”

According to Scott, the taxpayers did ask to find a way to save money, however she believes there were other ways to save.

Among the many areas Scott noted the town could save money were not hiring 14 new people at town hall, not buying the Duffy’s property, not buying Bellevue and not buying St. Bernard’s school. Scott claims there were other places town council could have found money to save taxpayers money without touching an essential service.

A group of protesters gather to voice their concerns with the policing switch to Windsor.

“We don’t want to lose our Amherstburg police, we want them to stay,” said Scott. “Most of them will probably stay but we’re still going to have to pay a severance.”

In Scott’s perfect world, Amherstburg police service would be left alone. The town would be looking at employees benefit packages to find a way where they can find benefits for “a little bit less”, do some wage freezes and not hire 14 new people in town hall.

Also noted on the long list of concerns was whether Amherstburg would receive the same level of service and how much more it would cost.

Scott expressed her frustration with Amherstburg doing all the spending and questioned where Windsor is spending its money.

“We all know at the end of five years if Windsor decides to continue with us, they aren’t going to do it for free,” said Scott. “We’re going to pay and we’re going to pay big.”

The 20-year contract will be eligible for review every five years and either Windsor or Amherstburg could pull out of the deal with 18 months notice. The contract is set to take place Jan. 1.

Town, APSB in disagreement over severance package issue

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Members of the Amherstburg Police Services Board (APSB) and the town, led by Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, are in an apparent dispute after a decision was released regarding an arbitration hearing last Thursday.

The hearing was held in Toronto before arbitrator Larry Steinberg and involved members of the APSB as well as the Amherstburg Police Association and was held last Wednesday.

The decision, released the next morning, has the town and the APSB at different ends of the spectrum. According to DiCarlo, the decision did not suggest that Amherstburg police officers could simply leave and walk away with the money. Officers could receive four weeks for every year of service in severance but DiCarlo indicated that severance may only come into play if an Amherstburg officer is asked to take less to stay employed.

“The language in the collective agreement is referred to in the decision. If the town does not equalize or provide equal rank compensation salary, then the severances would kick in,” DiCarlo told the media after the second of two hotel announcements last Friday.

DiCarlo referred to the provision that reads: “In the event that the Board receives permission to disband the Service and contracts policing out to another police service, other than the Ontario Provincial Police, or amalgamates with another police service, any member of the Association who is not offered the same or higher rank or classification level without loss or seniority and an equivalent or improved salary and benefits package, as provided in Article 34.02(a), (b) and (c), or the member may elect to accept the position offered at the lower rank or classification and lower salary, in which case the board shall pay to the member the difference in salary provided in this Agreement and the salary received in the new position, for a period of two (2) years.”

“We maintain the position if we equalize everything between the two contracts, there would be no severances,” said DiCarlo.

DiCarlo touted the position that there will be $14-$15 million in savings over the 20-year contract and that there would be savings for the town “no matter what,” even if severances had to be paid out.

The arbitrator ruled that a “line-by-line approach must be conducted separately for each salary and benefits” and “I am of the opinion that the reference to ‘benefits’ includes all benefits in the collective agreement and not simply health and welfare benefits.”

The decision adds that: “In addition to the core dispute between the parties, it should be noted that the Association agreed in the event an employee elects to accept a position with the City of Windsor with inferior salary and benefits, the two-year salary top up referred to in the collective agreement only applies to salary and not benefits. The Association specifically reserved its right, however, to argue that the meaning of salary goes beyond the annual salaries in the collective agreements.”

Councillor Jason Lavigne, who is a member of the APSB, noted that the town can have the position it wants but it’s the board that handles severances. He believed there was “a lot of negativity and misinformation directed at the board” but the board has done “everything above board and on par.”

Lavigne believed DiCarlo has taken several positions on the issue while the APSB has always maintained the position there was a chance for anywhere from $0-$2.4 million in severances.

“We hired an out-of-town, very highly regarded law firm that specializes in police negotiations,” said Lavigne.

Lavigne questioned where the money would come from to cover severances, something that Rozankovic noted would have to come in one lump sum payment.

“We’re very confused with the conflicting statements coming out of town hall,” said Lavigne.

Rozankovic stated the arbitrator’s decision shows there is a 99.9 per cent “likelihood” that the town could be exposed to up to $2.4 million in severances.

“This has been knowledge here since the Feb. 26 council meeting. They were told then that there was a chance of $0-$2.4-million worth of severances. It was only a chance then but now, it’s a very severe likelihood, but again, not certain.”

Officers will begin getting job offers Oct. 27 and will have two weeks to consider them. Rozankovic believes there are about four to six that may not accept the offers.

Lavigne said they are not dealing in “conspiracy theories or innuendos,” that they are dealing with, stressing that it is “public knowledge.”

“It’s been misrepresented to the public,” he believed. “In my opinion, that has to with politics and not much to do with good governance.”

Lavigne also questioned the recent meeting regarding an alleged in-camera leak, believing it to be “smoke and mirrors” as the issue regarding police severances is that of the board and not council to begin with.

Rozankovic, the APSB chair, said the board has dealt with matters throughout the entire process with honesty and integrity.

“I am so proud of this board and the association that has had a lot of stress this year,” he said.

Lavigne didn’t believe council listened to the people during the process of switching to Windsor police and dismissed any notion of a “silent majority.” He said most polls, comments and information he heard opposed the switch.

“Democracy doesn’t work by listening to the silent majority,” he said. “I’ve been out there. Show me the silent majority.”

Rozankovic and Lavigne, both election candidates for deputy mayor and councillor respectively, say they are simply speaking the facts.

“People can say we’re playing politics but we’re telling the truth,” said Rozankovic.

Rozankovic compared the process to being “a square peg being forced into a round hole no matter what.”

Lavigne also questioned the morale that Amherstburg officers will have, adding that the town needs to get this issue over with and move forward. Both he and Rozankovic praised the Amherstburg officers and the training they received.

“This is a life decision for our officers,” Lavigne said, of the offers from Windsor police.

Rozankovic acknowledged the recent hotel announcements and believed the news of the arbitration hearing unfortunately came at the same time as those announcements.

Policing contract signed, to take effect Jan. 1

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The town’s much publicized and often controversial switch to the Windsor Police Service appeared to reach a conclusion Friday morning.

The official contract signing took place inside of a fourth floor boardroom at Windsor police headquarters with the contract being for 20-years with reviews eligible every five years. Either Windsor or Amherstburg could pull out of the deal with 18 months notice, but representatives from both sides looked pleased with what was happening Friday morning.

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens said it was a day where they could “serve residents and save money” and one where they could talk about regional co-operation. He said they have been working with Amherstburg for about one year and that the town put out an RFP that “really met the needs of the town.”

Dilkens said savings for Amherstburg amount to about $570,000 per year and “it’s the same service, folks,” stating same officers that will be working in town.

“There was a lot of misinformation put out in the public on what this would look like and how it would work,” said Dilkins.

The Windsor mayor added that he is hopeful other Essex County municipalities will take a look at what was done and possibly consider such a move.

“This is the potential to be the first step towards a regional policing model in Essex County, something that would ultimately benefits all of the residents in Essex County,” Dilkens stated.

Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said he recalled going door-to-door in 2014 and that policing costs were one of the hot topics at that time.

“We wanted to look at all options,” he said.

Windsor police was the only service that answered the RFP. DiCarlo said he felt some relief that the contract was being signed.

“We believe (Windsor) responded with something that would maintain the services that we enjoy in the Town of Amherstburg, and we also believe it will improve it with what they have to offer,” said DiCarlo. “We will have at least as good a service, and I believe better than we had before, with the City of Windsor, and we will also save money in the process.”

DiCarlo said the town shares many services already and “policing was one of the few that we didn’t.”

Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo and Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens signed the policing contract Friday morning in Windsor. Both mayors promoted benefits to their respective municipalities.

“Both municipalities will do better because of the partnership we developed,” DiCarlo predicted.

Windsor police chief Al Frederick said “it’s all about public safety” for police and that he was “fully behind it from Day 1,” in reference to contracting with Amherstburg. He said Windsor’s specialty units and resources are now available to Amherstburg, though noted the same officers will remain in Amherstburg unless they wish to move to Windsor.

DiCarlo noted that the officers will still be dispatched out of the existing Amherstburg police station.

Asked whether the contract could be reviewed depending on the makeup of the next Amherstburg council, it didn’t appear that door was open. Some candidates have asked for a review of the situation, but Dilkins noted that by the signing of the contract, “it’s official.

“Once the election is done, it will stop being an election issue,” said Dilkens.

Dilkens said some in Amherstburg may worry about a loss of part of the town’s fabric but insisted the deal will be better for both Amherstburg and Windsor. Frederick said they will win over Amherstburg residents “one call at a time” and that the same 30 officers and the chief will be offered positions. The deputy chief will not be offered a position.

Frederick didn’t comment on civilian members of the Amherstburg Police Service, simply stating “I’ve said from the beginning that all employees will receive a job offer.”

“Every interaction with the Amherstburg community, once Windsor takes over policing, we are going to deliver,” said Frederick.

DiCarlo acknowledged there may be severance or equalization payments that may still have be paid out, but stood by his belief the town will save money in the long run.

“Even if we did have to pay some money in equalization or severance, it’s not exactly going to negate the millions in savings,” he stated. “It’s just going to possibly defer or reduce it a bit. There’s no question there is going to be millions in savings for the Town of Amherstburg during the life of this deal.”

Other Amherstburg politicians at the contract signing were councillors Leo Meloche and Rick Fryer, both of whom also voted in favour of the deal. CAO John Miceli, director of corporate services Cheryl Horrobin and director of planning, development and legislative services Mark Galvin. However, councillors Diane Pouget and Jason Lavigne contacted the River Town Times to state that they and the remaining council members were not notified of the press conference.

Pouget said she learned about the signing when watching media coverage that evening, something Lavigne said as well. Lavigne said the issue of severance has been around since the Feb. 26 vote and wishes proponents of the deal properly notified residents of the possible ramifications at that point.

A report on the Feb. 26 agenda stated the possibility of paying out anywhere from zero to $2.4 million in payouts and that there was also a legal opinion contained with that report.

“Will the town have to borrow that money?” questioned Lavigne, who voted against the switch. “I don’t have that information.”

Lavigne wondered if the vote could have went a different way Feb. 26 if the severance information was better known.

“To me, it’s unfortunate this council isn’t on the same page anymore,” he said.

The OCPC approved the switch from Amherstburg to Windsor in a ruling issued in July.