Policing Decision Questions For Mayoral Candidates

Note: Due to unforeseen circumstances, I was unable to publish this post until now.

On July 28, 2018, the following questions were sent to both mayoral candidates – Glenn Swinton responded on July 31; Aldo DiCarlo did not respond.

Administration did not carry out council’s December 2014 motion and direction to obtain an OPP costing.

Do you believe administration should have been held accountable for not carrying out council’s direction and not obtaining an OPP costing?

After researching and participating in the processes used in the policing issue, I would suggest that much of the “direction” administration followed was ordered not by council but rather the town’s CAO. The objective was to find costing from the O.P.P. and area police services. This was not adequately attempted. I will  maintain that administration ought to have pursued the O.P.P., Lasalle and Windsor costing regardless of the service inclusions being offered, then provided an unbiased assessment of the differences between the three available service providers, outlining any deficiencies/savings. The RFP as it was design chased away Lasalle and was an unacceptable process to the O.P.P.. We refused to submit to O.P.P. under their province wide, designated format they require, then negotiated and tailored the RFP to accommodate Windsor. Yes, I firmly believe the head of our administration and those acting within his helm should be held accountable for not adequately equipping our council on this issue.

Administration did not carry out council’s January 2017 motion and direction to work with the OPP on the OPP costing.

Do you believe administration should have been held accountable for not carrying out council’s direction and for not working with the OPP?

*Please see my answer above.

Public consultation was recommended prior to the issuing of an RFP Police Services in the OACP Guidelines CAO Miceli relied on. The RTT reported CAO Miceli said he wanted to solicit information from the public before an RFP was issued, “That, to me, is the critical driver.”

Do you believe the public should have had an opportunity to provide input on the community’s policing needs before the RFP was issued?

It is likely difficult for the average citizen to effectively determine the policing requirements of a community. However, public input should always, at the very least, be considered.  CAO Miceli should have applied greater emphasis on the information received from those directly involved in the current day to day operations at the Amherstburg Police Services, as they would have the best knowledge of the towns actual needs. From the JPAC meetings that I attended, it was evident that the input of Chief Berthiuame was often discounted by the JPAC chair.

The Ontario Ombudsman concluded that the JPAC and council contravened the Municipal Act when they met in camera to discuss the RFP.

Do you believe the process was transparent? Why?

I do not believe the process was transparent. In full disclosure, please know that one of the complaints filed to the Ombudsman that ended with a noted contravention was in fact from me. There is a limited scope of topics that are required to happen in camera. Outside of that realm, any member of the public that makes time to attend, deserves the benefit of inclusion.

Mayor DiCarlo advised me the OPP and Windsor responses would be made public after the consultant and steering committee reviewed the responses and council received the reports. The Windsor Police Service has denied access to the proposal in its entirety in response to my FOI request.

Do you agree that the Windsor Proposal should have been kept from the public?

No. There are definite and clear discrepancies within the initial proposal that would lay proof to the fact that the projected savings is un-attainable or at the very least, far from accurate. There are clauses that give monetary advantages to the WPS, such as the transfer of registered assets for a monetary registration fee for insurance purposes. This in itself should be viewed as a loss since it translates to this: If our squad cars for example were valued at $50,000 EACH (estimate number for ease of use), we will be transferring them to the WPS for a $1 registration fee. (The typical “monetary value” used between government agencies) Vehicles that are budgeted to be replaced in 2018 must still be replaced before the contract takes effect. So essentially, we will be handing over $49,999 to Windsor in just one of our vehicles. These simple clauses that the public is shielded from will result in expenditures that we will have to eat over and above the contract’s initiation fee of $1M. Or perhaps that clause that indicates that the Windsor Police Services have not noted any renovations or upgrades to be required to the existing building BUT if they do, these costs will be transferred to the taxpayers of the Town of Amherstburg? No indication of limitations or monetary caps of any kind. This is just two of many examples. Do I believe that allthe public would benefit from viewing the proposal, probably not. BUT there are many in this town that will change their opinion of my findings if they could.

The Amherstburg Police Services Board agreed to severances in the 2017 – 2019 Amherstburg Police collective agreement whether OPP or any other service policed the community.

Do you believe officers are entitled to severances despite no job losses as stated?

Severances are still left to be disputed. Despite any opinion one way or the other, labour disputes are often a complicated and expensive legal matter. One that again, will be carried by Amherstburg taxpayers. To my knowledge, this issue has not been resolve as of my authoring of this response; even though an apparent contract has been drafted and approved in efforts to beat a lame duck council. I believe our officers should exercise caution in this area to ensure that any credit for years of service, as it relates to severance are transferred to any new position with the Windsor Police Services. I would hate to see any officer (or office staff) with years of service in Amherstburg, walked out the front door of the WPS headquarters after a few weeks without any severance which they may have waved on the promise of a position elsewhere. Because the Amherstburg Police Services will be abolished rather than amalgamate with Windsor, each APS employee will likely be recorded as terminated from Amherstburg with a new start date in Windsor of January 1 2019. The only exception I have noted is with respect to “benefits” which takes into account years of service. Severance, or termination pay is not considered a benefit.

An exercise that was to compare all policing options, benefit the ratepayers financially, and preserve local governance transformed into an unprecedented process that excluded the OPP from participating, did not result in optimal savings, forfeited governance, restricted future decision making and resulted in a continuation of the status quo.

Do you believe the Windsor option is in the best interest of Amherstburg ratepayers? Why?

No, I do not. I believe that it is irresponsible to suggest that this process can be reversed in five years if we so desire. I would suggest that our ever developing, continually growing population will also be met with an evolving requirement for policing services. To base a 20 year prediction of savings on todays policing needs, is unrealistic and plain unreliable. We should consider that this proposal is putting the tax payers of Amherstburg at risk of being hit in the near future with a decision of either accepting basic “adequate and effective” policing that fits the payment plan or accepting the elevated per capita rates taxpayers in the city of Windsor currently pay for the services which they own. The only savings that can be verified for certain is the salary of our Chief and Deputy Chief which are said to be transferring onto Windsor’s payroll. A savings that Windsor taxpayers may have yet to realize, is thanks to them.