Police Officers’ Breach of Information Violation of Employee Code of Conduct?

Council members have been asked: regarding the town hall employee’s disclosure of Amherstburg police officers’ personal information, including 40 names, addresses, telephone numbers, cell phone numbers, next of kin, spouses’ cell phone numbers, start dates and birthdays, was any violation of the employee code of conduct, section 15, below, addressed?

Section 15 of the outdated 2007 CODE OF CONDUCT POLICY FOR STAFF/EMPLOYEES:

15.0 Confidential Information

The following information must not be used or disclosed, except in accordance with the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (“MFIPPA”):

  • information which is personal,
  • information that constitutes the proprietary information of a third party, individual or group,
  • might reasonably be regarded as having been disclosed to the Employee in confidence,
  • is of a sensitive nature, or imparts to the person in possession of such information anadvantage not available to the public generally.

No Employee shall benefit, either directly or indirectly, from the use of information acquired during the course of official duties that is not generally available to the public.

Personal information controlled by the Town must be used or disclosed in compliance with the MFIPPA.

Employees must protect the following examples of information regarding the Town and others from illegal and unauthorized use:

  • client records,
  • information contained in business strategies and plans,
  • pending proposals or contracts,
  • estimates prior to tender openings,
  • unannounced services,
  • research results,
  • financial data and projections,
  • proposed acquisitions and divestitures,
  • computer programs and software,
  • professional expertise, or
  • inventions.

Amherstburg Police Officers’ Personal Information Breached

Paula Parker forwarded a request for any RFP Police Services Addenda to Bobbi Reive, Financial Planning Administrator, who disclosed all four addenda.

Addendum #2 contained Amherstburg police officers’ names, addresses, telephone numbers, cell phone numbers, next of kin, spouses’ cell phone numbers, employment start dates and birthdays.

The town advised the Information and Privacy Commissioner Ontario that it implemented remedial measures, including the amendment of the town’s request for information procedures to ensure that any information shall be verified, at least twice, prior to its release to the requester in order to prevent inadvertent disclosure of confidential information.

No Severance, No Sympathy

Both the Amherstburg Police Services Board and the Amherstburg Police Association agreed to the ‘poison pill’ takeover clause in the collective agreement. Although it initially referred to the OPP, the parties agreed to expand the clause to include contracting policing to ‘another police service, other than the Ontario Provincial Police’ (emphasis added).

am800 reported former officer Scott Riddell was disappointed and frustrated by the town holding payments.

“Treated very poorly through the whole process by certain members of the administration and now this, right,” says Riddell.  “We’re talking about wages.  This ain’t even about the severance.” He and others have even reached out to the Ministry of Labour looking for answers when it comes to pay that’s owed to them.

I have no sympathy.

Firstly, severance is commonly paid for loss of employment not simply for rejecting an offer of employment. Secondly, being treated very poorly, in my opinion, was when: a decision was made to withhold an officer’s benefits, contrary to law and the contract at zero cost; an officer was targeted and discriminated against for years; an officer was denied promotions and trainings; officers surreptitiously observed and reported on an officer’s family members’ activities.

The drama continued yesterday when am800 reported, “It’s very disheartening and disrespectful in my opinion we’re being treated this way,” says McCurdy.

It’s incredulous the lengths some will go to when they are personally affected and frustrated. I can imagine the ramifications if a particular officer voiced an opinion about an elected official or administration in the press.

A couple of weeks without pay for what amounts to retirement? Give me a break.

Windsor Police Takeover On Schedule

am800 reported the deadline for the Windsor Police Service to takeover policing in Amherstburg is quickly approaching and Chief Al Frederick says everything is on schedule.

I’m not sure why implementing a schedule as planned is newsworthy.

According to the article, ‘Over the course of the contract the town will save $14-million and an additional $2-million to $3-million in pensions and benefits.’

I’m also not sure why the projected savings are repeated when, in my opinion, they are minimal and an OPP switch might have reduced the policing costs significantly.

Unfortunately, council did not follow up on its motions to obtain an OPP costing so we’ll never know. But we do know how much other municipalities pay for policing.

OPP Or Other Contract In Amherstburg Police Collective Agreement

A three year collective agreement was signed on September 19, 2017 by the Amherstburg Police Association and Amherstburg Police Service Board, consisting of:

Patricia Simone, Chair
Robert Rozankovic, Vice Chair and council candidate
Aldo DiCarlo, Mayor and mayoral candidate
Jason Lavigne.

Article 34: OPP Policing

Should the Service be disbanded or reduced in size as a consequence of an agreement with the Ministry of the Solicitor General to have the Ontario Provincial Police assume the policing responsibilities for the municipality, each member of the Service offered employment and who accepts employment with the Ontario Provincial Police shall be entitled to the following:

a)  The Board agrees that when a member is offered and accepts employment with the O.P.P., the Board will pay each member $1500.00 per year of service, or part thereof.

b)  The Board agrees that on the date of disbandment ofthe Service each member absent from duty by virtue of illness or injury, or any other authorized absence, shall continue to be provided with all of the benefits of this Agreement, unless benefits are otherwise provided by the Ontario Provincial Police from the date of disbandment. A member covered by this provision who is not offered employment or who does not accept employment with the 0 . P.P. shall be entitled to all of the applicable severance benefits outlined within this Agreement in addition to any other benefits of this Agreement.

c) In the event a member is offered employment with the O.P.P. and accepts such employment, but the employment is not at least comparable in base salary, the Board agrees to pay the difference in base salary for a period of two (2) years from the date the member commences employment with the O.P.P.

d) For the purposes of this subsection, member is defined as a member at the time of disbandment of the Amherstburg Police Service.

The Board agrees that when a member is offered and accepts employment with the O.P.P., the Board will, on behalf of the member, allocate $1000 per year of service, or part thereof, into a Retiree Benefits Account to be managed by the Corporation of the Town of Amherstburg, and upon the member’s retirement from the O.P.P., the Member’s Retiree Benefits Account shall fully vest with the member and the Corporation of the Town of Amherstburg forfeit all rights to this account as outlined below:

i) The member shall be eligible to register for group health insurance.

ii) The costs associated with the member’s registration in a group health insurance shall be paid from the member’s Retiree Benefits Account.

iii) The Corporation of the Town of Amherstburg shall withdraw the funds necessary from the Member’s Retiree Benefits Account in order to pay the member for reimbursement of group health insurance provided the employer receives a receipt or letter from the member identifying a payment of benefits to an insurance provider. This Agreement shall constitute the Member’s authorization and direction to the Corporation of the Town of Amherstburg for such withdraws.

iv) Should the account balance reach zero, the account shall be closed.

v) Should the member die with a balance in the account, the member’s surviving spouse may continue to use the account in the same manner as when the member was living.

vi) Should the member die with no surviving spouse or should the member’s surviving spouse die, any remaining funds in the account shall be returned to the estate of the member or their surviving spouse, as the case may be.

34.02 Should the service be disbanded or reduced in size as a consequence of an agreement with the Ministry of the Solicitor General to have the Ontario Provincial Police assume policing responsibilities for the municipality, each member of the service not offered employment with the O.P.P., or who does not accept employment with the O.P.P., or whose employment is terminated as a consequence of an agreement with the Ministry of the Solicitor General to have the Ontario Provincial Police assume policing responsibilities shall be entitled to the following:

a) Four (4) weeks’ salary at their regular rate of pay for every year of service, or part thereof, with the Amherstburg Police Service.

b) The full Ontario Health Plan Benefits package under this agreement at the date of termination to continue for two (2) years from the date of termination or until the member is re-employed and in receipt of such benefits from the new member’s employment, whichever comes first.

c) The amount of up to five thousand ($5,000) dollars for education, upgrading or retraining. These funds are for tuition, books, and equipment, traveling and living expenses directly related to education, upgrading or e-training. The member must commence the education, upgrading or retraining within twelve (12) months of termination as outlined in this Article only. The funds will be available for a thirty-six (36) month period from the commencement of the education, upgrading or retraining, except if the member retires.

34.03  Should the service be disbanded or reduced in size as a consequence of an agreement with the Ministry of the Solicitor General to have the Ontario Provincial Police assume policing responsibilities for the municipality, the Board agrees that all rights under the current collective agreement and/or preceding collective agreements’ provided to retired members, their dependents, and deceased retirees dependents, shall remain in effect and shall continue after the time of disbandment of the Service.

34.04  In the event that the Board receives permission to disband the Service and contracts policing 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 of seniority, and an equivalent or improved salary and benefits package as provided in this Agreement shall be entitled to elect to receive a severance 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 between the salary provided in this Agreement and the salary received in the new position, for a period of two (2) years.

Facts About OPP Costing

Commentary by Linda Saxon

In response to Glenn Swinton’s letter to the editor, River Town Times.

Glenn Swinton asked some sensible questions; however I wonder if one might not have been posed had the facts been known.

Mr. Swinton asked, “why are we now ‘negotiating’ the RFP with Windsor and not trying to accommodate or meet service levels from the other services that didn’t want to meet the RFP in the first place?”

The then-newly formed Joint Police Advisory Committee determined in July 2016 the OPP costing process was not feasible and the Municipality should drive the process to include bids.

While some municipalities issue RFPs for consultants and establish costing committees to compare all policing options, Amherstburg devised a Joint Police Advisory Committee (JPAC) to ‘guide the development for a Request For Proposal (RFP) and hired a consultant to assist the committee.

It wasn’t that the OPP opted out; the OPP were ready to commence the costing proposal process for Amherstburg in June 2017 following the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services approved OPP costing process.

The OPP requested dates to schedule a meet and greet and asked CAO John Miceli to forward the Municipal Police Service Profile form to Chief Berthiaume or his designate for completion and return within four weeks; this would have been step three of the process.

The RFP was issued in July 2017. Everyone involved ought to have known an RFP for services was a different process than the Ministry-approved OPP costing process implemented around the province.

The JPAC received the OPP Information Manual for the OPP Contract Proposal Process detailing the steps to be followed. And, even though the committee used guidelines for the review of policing options from the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, the OPP process was also detailed in it.

The committee also discussed public consultation prior to the RFP even being developed and ratepayers should have had the opportunity to express the level of policing service they expect.

Instead, the public’s choice was limited to maintaining the status quo or selecting Windsor Police Service without knowing if there were better alternatives, despite elected officials’ promises to explore all cost saving options.