Windsor Police Service

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.

Culture Days returning to Amherstburg Sept. 29-30

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Town of Amherstburg will once again be busy the weekend of Sept. 29-30.

Amherstburg will participate in the national Culture Days program this weekend

“National Culture Days is a great opportunity for our community to celebrate our history, stories and different forms of art. Culture is what makes our community unique,” explained tourism co-ordinator Jennifer Ibrahim. “We hope that families come out to the King’s Navy Yard Park during the event times and enjoy some casual hands on activities offered. Whether it be enjoying a First Nation drumming demonstration or creating painted rocks, this is a great time to reflect on what makes us special.”

All across Canada, municipalities and cultural organizations invite residents and visitors to engage in thousands of free activities and performances that showcase and highlight the rich history and culture of each independent city or town.

Events in Amherstburg will run from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. each day, and the town states that guests are encouraged to enjoy hands-on activities, a variety of art mediums, and “to revel in a number of heritage-based and cultural expressions.”

This year includes a marine exhibit at The Gibson Gallery, the Provincial Marine at the Commissariat exhibit, a performance by the Spirit of the Four Directions Singers at 1 p.m. Sept. 29, a narrative history walking tour by local historian Robert Honor, and on-site painting by the Windsor Essex Plein Air Artists in Kings Navy Yard Park and more!

Rock painting as part of the “Amherstburg Rocks” program will be one component of the Sept. 29-30 Culture Days event. The town’s events in the downtown core are free but events at Fort Malden National Historic Site carry an admission charge. (RTT file photo)

Honor’s walks start at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. behind the Gordon House both days.

New this year the police department are getting involved with a fun opportunity to have ice cream with a cop!” said Ibrahim. That event will be Sept. 29 only.

As part of the “Ice Cream with a Cop” component of Culture Days, the community is being invited by the town to vote on one of two proposed designs for their “updated vehicle fleet” when Windsor police takes over Jan. 1, 2019. The winning design will be unveiled later this year, a press release from the town states.

“Ice Cream with a Cop” is described by the town as “an interactive community engagement initiative designed to bring law enforcement and community members together, discussing any questions concerns regarding the transition, or policing as a whole. Police officers from both Windsor Police Services and Amherstburg Police Services will be on hand to greet the public and will distribute a coupon for a free scoop at the Waterfront Ice Cream Parlour to the first 200 guests.”

“Amherstburg is always pleased to participate in the national celebration of Canadian culture,” Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said in a press release. “Amherstburg is a hub for Canadian history and culture. It’s a great time to explore what we have to offer at many of our local sites.”

For a complete schedule of event times and locations, visit www.amherstburg.ca/culturedays or call (519) 730-1309. People can also visit the tourism department’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/AmherstburgConnection or follow them on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AmherstburgNow.

Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada will also be busy the weekend of Sept. 29-30. There will be the “Fort Malden Heritage Fair” that runs 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday with Sunday also seeing a “lumberjack breakfast” served from 9 a.m.-11:30 a.m.

The event is described on Fort Malden’s website as follows: “Fort Malden comes alive for one special weekend with an array of exhibits, demonstrations, and entertaining shows from local heritage and cultural organizations. See antique vehicles, local museum displays, falconry, puppet shows, musical entertainment, and living history demonstrations. Visit historic merchant tents where you can purchase 19th century kettle corn, doughnuts, pottery, candles, quills, and hand-woven baskets, or support the Friends of Fort Malden’s BBQ and craft beer garden.”

Admission to Fort Malden’s event is $4.90 for adults, $4.40 for seniors and $1.75 for youth. The “lumberjack breakfast” is $9.80 and stew will be available for $4.90.

Fort Malden’s website is www.parkscanada.gc.ca/malden and their Facebook site is www.facebook.com/FortMaldenNHS.

 

Human remains found in Amherstburg

 

The Windsor Police Service, with the assistance of the Amherstburg Police Service, was conducting an investigation on Concession 8 North Tuesday after police say human remains were found in the area between Alma St. and Texas Road. As of press time, Amherstburg police state that the Windsor major crimes unit was on scene. More details will be posted on the RTT’s website once they emerge.

Accident   A single vehicle rollover was reported in the 1300 block of Concession 2 last Wednesday. Reported at 7:50 a.m., Amherstburg police state that a youth was charged with an unsafe move. There were no injuries.

 

Fraud   A resident on Shaw Dr. reported an attempted fraud last Thursday around 10:20 a.m. Amherstburg police state that the resident was attempting to sell furniture through Kijiji and an interested person sent a cheque for over the asking price, asking that the difference be returned. The complainant took the cheque to the bank and the bank advised the person that the cheque was fake. The items were not picked up and police say the complainant advised them of what was happening.

 

Stats.  There were nine 911 hang-up calls, 12 alarm calls and 22 traffic-related charges over the past week.

 

—All information courtesy of the Amherstburg Police Service

 

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.)

 

Local youth take part in VIP demonstration day

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A number of Amherstburg schools headed to Windsor as part of “VIP Demonstration Day.”

The event, held recently at the Tilston Armouries, saw five of six Amherstburg schools attend. Grade 6 students, who are taking the Values Influences and Peers (VIP) program, to see Windsor police’s K9 unit, explosives demolition, emergency services tactical units, the outdoor firearms range, the vehicles police officers use and also got to watch as officers repelled from a tower on site.

Students from Anderdon Public School were one of those schools that participated in the VIP demonstration days.

“It gives kids the extra exposure to police and what the capabilities of the police are,” said Const. Steve Owen, community services officer with the Amherstburg Police Service.

Owen said Windsor was kind enough to open their doors to Amherstburg students and the local schools took advantage.

Windsor Police Const. Adam Young said it was the fifth annual event and said when such units are brought to the schools, they could show very little of their capabilities. At the Tilston Armouries, students can see their full abilities.

“It also allows us to engage with students at a personal level,” he said. “We’re here to serve them.”

All of the schools that took part in a recent VIP demonstration day at the Tilston Armouries gather for a group photo.

With the Windsor Police Service possibly serving in Amherstburg, pending approval by the Ontario Civilian Policing Commission (OCPC), Young said they wanted to include Amherstburg students this year as well. He said that exposes Amherstburg students to find out more about what Windsor police is capable of and to get to know more police officers so that it is a “seamless” transition.