Councillor Meloche Responds To Questions About OPP Costing

Councillor Meloche’s response:

Given that you directed an inquiry to all Council members, I will comment.
I concur with the Mayor’s comments in his response to you.

In my discussion with residents, the OPP costing model was of concern because it was difficult to quantify the level of policing they would provide. A member of the Essex Town Council even told me directly that we should not expect the same level of policing with the OPP. In the end, their model did not fit our requirements as set out in our RFP and therefore made the decision to decline our RFP. Windsor Police on the other hand were accommodating to the level of service we were seeking.

I trust you have received satisfactory responses to your questions.

Editor’s Note: Then- candidate Meloche never answered any of the burgwatch questions from residents during the 2014 campaign regarding the OPP costing. Actually, the decision to decline the RFP was based on a Ministry approved protocol. Would it not have been more prudent for an elected representative to meet with the OPP to dispel myths instead of being influenced by opinion?

Mayor DiCarlo Responds To Questions About OPP Costing

Mayor DiCarlo copied my questions and responded below each of them.

why did council not provide the OPP with an opportunity to schedule an information session?

The OPP were given the opportunity to provide a costing under Council’s agreed upon process of an RFP to ensure equivalent service levels.  An information session that did not meet Council’s direction of an RFP would not have been appropriate.

Editor’s Note: An information session should have been deemed appropriate in response to council’s motions to obtain an OPP costing, work with the OPP and Mayor DiCarlo’s statement to the Ministry: “I will be pleased to provide any additional information that your Ministry may require. We look forward to working collaboratively with OPP staff members and representatives from nearby municipalities to ensure the process we follow is fair, transparent, and comprehensive.” Instead of relying on hearsay from other municipalities, the OPP would have provided factual information and clarification if anyone was uninformed.

why was the September 14, 2017 letter from the OPP to Mayor Aldo DiCarlo not presented to council until five months later at its February 26, 2018 meeting?

The meeting of February 26th was when the letter was made public to the residents.  Council was aware of the OPP’s position prior to that date.

Editor’s Note: my FOI request to the town, because the mayor would not respond re my request for the letter, was for “the town council meeting agenda and minutes wherein the letter was presented and discussed.” How did council become aware of the OPP’s position before the February 26, 2018 meeting if it was not presented or discussed at any other meeting? Was there an in-camera meeting I was not advised of?

and why did council not submit a resolution to the OPP by the September 30, 2017 deadline?

As stated above, the OPP were given a resolution from council that requested a costing based on the Town’s RFP model.  There was no need or direction to provide any other resolutions.

Editor’s Note: council’s motions to obtain an OPP costing and work with the OPP were never rescinded to the best of my knowledge. CAO Miceli never answered my question about it.

DiCarlo: To be clear, to date, I have only heard from 2 residents that I recall on the preference to consider the OPP costing model.  Perhaps the other members of council have heard from more, that is for them to share.  The majority of the residents of Amherstburg that I’ve heard from have made it clear that they were not interested in the OPP’s model of policing.  Should that change, the issue can always be revisited.  In the meanwhile, I believe a reasonable amount of time has been spent in answering the questions you posed, but there is a considerable amount of other business that also needs attention.

Editor’s Note: I did not ask about any residents’ preferences however, the original motion to obtain an OPP costing in December 2014 was the result of an election issue, which Mayor DiCarlo addressed during the campaign when he stated, in part, RE OPP costing, “What I can say, what I know, is that the current board didn’t do their due diligence in acquiring the information for us to make an educated decision on what would be best for the town…information that would have been ‘free’. I would definitely acquire this information, if given the chance, and then work with the appropriate parties to achieve what’s best for the Town, or more importantly, what the Town feels is best for them.”

The majority of residents expressed an interest to maintain the Amherstburg Police Service, but Mayor DiCarlo voted in favour of Windsor’s proposal.

Responding to media requests is part of the position and time commitment Mayor DiCarlo campaigned for: that’s what accountability and transparency is.

Update: Shortly after Council’s 2014 motion to obtain an OPP costing, the Windsor Star reported, “We’ve had plenty of residents say, why don’t we have OPP? And in the long run, the answer might be, well here’s why and we’re not going to.” DiCarlo said. “But up to now, because no one’s asked for the costing, (we haven’t) been able to say the difference between these two.”

February 2016, the RTT reported, Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said they are working on bringing a representative of the OPP to council to explain the process. Lavigne added they hope to bring police services board representatives from OPP jurisdictions to Amherstburg to speak to council on their experiences.

Questions For Council: OPP Costing Process Not Followed

Members of council have been asked the following questions:

why did council not provide the OPP with an opportunity to schedule an information session?

why was the September 14, 2017 letter from the OPP to Mayor Aldo DiCarlo not presented to council until five months later at its February 26, 2018 meeting?

and why did council not submit a resolution to the OPP by the September 30, 2017 deadline?

Access To Letter: Town Did Not Follow OPP Costing Process

As mentioned in this post, I submitted a FOI request for the letter referenced by the mayor in a November 14, 2017 RTT article since he did not respond to my two emails regarding my request for the letter.

The town has disclosed the letter, along with the fact that it is publicly available so no FOI request was required.

The article, OPP does not give police costing to Amherstburg, quoted Mayor DiCarlo:

“Instead of getting a costing from the OPP, we got a letter saying they are not going to follow our guidelines.”

The OPP “basically said no” when asked for the details the town wanted, said DiCarlo. He said it was “incredibly disappointing” the OPP didn’t want to work with the town’s guidelines, adding it was also “very frustrating” that while Windsor was willing the OPP “couldn’t be bothered.”

The September 14, 2017 letter from the OPP is addressed to Mayor Aldo DiCarlo.

Rather than indicate an unwillingness to follow the town’s guidelines, the OPP reiterated “the OPP utilizes the Information Manual for the OPP Contract Proposal Process for all contract proposals” and explained, “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.”

The OPP also stated, “we have made several attempts to schedule an information session to explain to your Council the OPP contract proposal process. Since we have not been provided with 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 proposal process.”

The OPP required a council resolution by September 30, 2017 if it wished to proceed.

The town confirmed that the September 14, 2017 letter to Mayor Aldo DiCarlo was presented five months later to council at its February 26, 2018 meeting.

Therefore, I disagree with the mayor’s position and submit the town did not follow the OPP costing process. How incredibly disappointing.

OCPC Found Dysfunction In Peterborough

According to the CBC report, “Complaints in the field [of policing] are inherent so I can’t say I’m surprised. The Town of Amherstburg​’s police force has had complaints. This is what happens in the business. We’d like to know what the complaints are and the details behind them,” DiCarlo said.

Maybe Mayor DiCarlo should submit a Freedom of Information request. Or maybe he shouldn’t comment until he knows the details. For example, are breaches of human rights or privacy acceptable business practices?

The details of OCPC’s Investigation into Peterborough Police Services Board were serious and concluded:

Based on evidence obtained during the course of the investigation, as summarized above, the Commission is now of the opinion that the ongoing dysfunction of the PPSB constitutes an emergency and that the appointment of an administrator pursuant to subsection 23(1) of the PSA is necessary in the public interest. The status of the existing Board members is not affected by this Order, as they remain members of the Board in good standing, but the Board’s functions will be overseen by the administrator.

Amherstburg Holds Emergency Meetings In Response To WPS Investigation

Blackburn News reported, Amherstburg’s Police Services Board meets for an emergency meeting Thursday afternoon in response to an investigation into the Windsor Police Service.

The report includes: Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, “I guess the biggest thing that has taken me back is the last minute notice from the OCPC,” says DiCarlo. “That really didn’t give us much more than a day to try and figure out what we do and so, that more than anything has got me a little upset.”

Investigation Into Windsor Police Service and Board

CBC News reported The OCPC started to receive complaints in January and opened an investigation into on May 4. The investigation is being disclosed now ahead of the push for WPS to offer policing services to Amherstburg.

The Windsor Star also reported, The investigation by the Ontario Civilian Police Commission concerns Windsor police hiring and promotional practices including alleged nepotism, allegations of a “poisoned work environment” and allegations of “improper interference in specific legal proceedings,” Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens confirmed Wednesday.

iheartradio/am800 reported

The Commission says it decided to conduct an investigation on May 4 into a number of issues, including;

  1. Whether the promotional processes, particularly to administration rank positions, are fair and transparent and whether the Board exercises appropriate oversight of those processes
  2. Whether the hiring processes relating to the potential hiring of relatives are fair and transparent
  3. Whether the board is appropriately informed about administration issues relating to its mandate, including the promotional processes involving candidates for senior administration
  4. Whether there has been improper interference in specific legal proceedings and whether any such interference has been initiated, encouraged and/or sustained by the current administration of the WPS and/or the board.
  5. Whether a poisoned work environment has been created, encouraged, and / or sustained by the current administration of WPS in relation to workplace policies and/or accommodation requests
  6. Whether the WPS has fair and transparent processes to address workplace harassment and human rights complaints
  7. Whether the board is fulfilling its statutory oversight role in relation to items 5 and 6.

OCPC To Hold Public Meeting – Amherstburg Policing Proposal

Although the Windsor Police Proposal to take over policing in Amherstburg is not publicly available, the Ontario Civilian Police Commission will hear from the public on June 26, 2018:

9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.  AND 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Libro Credit Union Centre (Libro Centre)

3295 Meloche Road Amherstburg, ON

​To download/access the official Notice of Public Meeting, click here.

To download/access relevant portions of submissions, click Part 1Part 2, and Part 3.

Amherstburg Taxpayers Losers In Policing Decision

Commentary by Linda Saxon

Council’s motivation to compare policing costs was the level of municipal debt and it was committed to obtaining an OPP costing; it carried two motions to do so.

There were also other cost-saving options to reduce the police budget’s share of municipal taxes.

Council could have established the police budget and maybe taxpayers wouldn’t have been burdened with items like body worn cameras that large police services couldn’t afford because of data storage.

Despite claims over the years that the board was autonomous, according to the Police Services Act: Upon reviewing the estimates, the council shall establish an overall budget for the board for the purposes described in clauses (1) (a) and (b) and, in doing so, the council is not bound to adopt the estimates submitted by the board.

Council could have decided the taxpayers should only pay for a three member Police Services Board instead of the five recommended for a large police service.

Had council elected the OPP in 1998, when the OPP communication system was province wide, taxpayers might have realized $1 million savings annually, or $20 million by now, that could have been put toward infrastructure.

Instead, Amherstburg depended on others for dispatching and switched services a number of times from LaSalle, to Leamington, back to LaSalle, then to Windsor.

The proposed benefits of the 1998 amalgamation were identified as follows:

  1. operating costs would be stabilized through efficiencies;
  2. human resources would be deployed more efficiently;
  3. specialized police units would become financially viable due to the economics of scale;
  4. labour relations matters would be simplified;
  5. larger pool of human resources available to deal with major incidents;
  6. communications and computer systems would be enhanced; and
  7. several other benefits both to the service and to the public.

Amherstburg had access to the OPP specialized units and did require them on occasion, but will taxpayers now pay for specialized Windsor units 365 days a year whether they are needed or not?

The OPP’s mandate is to patrol the waterways so how necessary was an Amherstburg Police marine unit? Will a Windsor Police marine unit continue to be an unnecessary municipal expenditure?

The Police Services Board could have put an end to the OPP ‘poison pill’ clause in the police contract that seemed to inhibit the town obtaining an OPP costing.

The Windsor Star reported that Taxpayers in Windsor pay more per capita for policing than all other parts of Essex county, sometimes double that of its county neighbours policed by the OPP.

Given those verified figures, and because Amherstburg did not obtain an OPP costing as it was committed to doing, twice, Amherstburg taxpayers lost an opportunity to know if a better cost saving option was possible.

Consequently, no one can claim we got the best bang for our buck, despite that being the goal.

For the past twenty years I have maintained the Amherstburg Police hierarchical structure was costly and unnecessary; after all these years Windsor Police’s proposal to save money will see the hierarchy change.

Role Of Police Service Advisors

Commentary by Linda Saxon

I inquired if any Police Service Advisors were involved in the police costing process because Advisors are readily available: see page 3 of the OACP (Ontario Association Chiefs of Police), A Process Guidebook for the Review of Policing Options 2012, the guide referred to by CAO Miceli:

“During any consideration of policing options, the initial responsibility of the advisor is to outline for the Board and Council their options and responsibilities under the Act and the potential implications of each. During a review of Policing Options, the advisor is available upon request to provide information and advice to participants in the process. Their advice is based on the legislation contained in the PSA, its regulations, and Ministry guidelines, as well as best practices that arise from other similar restructuring experiences.”

Requesting Ministry Advisors might have been productive and might have saved ratepayers from paying for a private firm like MPM Consulting.

Windsor Staff Sgt. Refers To Police Culture At HRTO Hearing

A Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario hearing was held in Windsor to decide the allegations of Staff Sgt. Christine Bissonnette, who filed a human rights complaint after not being promoted to Inspector.

The Windsor Star reported, Bissonnette argued she was just as qualified as the men who got promotions. But, she said, there is “systemic discrimination” at the force that keeps her down.

“You have to understand the culture of this organization,” she told the hearing adjudicator after the police service’s lawyer repeatedly objected to Bissonnette’s examples.

The hearing is set to resume on dates yet to be selected in April or May.

Three Then-Candidates Did Not Answer Questions About OPP Costing

As a result of the burg watch inviting residents to submit questions to council candidates in 2014, three questions were raised about police costings, a hot topic given the amount of debt the municipality burdened its ratepayers with.

Leo Meloche, Joan Courtney, Rick Fryer did not answer any of the three questions:

Question 6. Obtain OPP Costing, Remove Contract Clause

Question 13. Police Contract Buyout Clause

Question 18. Eliminate Police Contract Poison Pill Clause

How Then-Candidate Bart DiPasquale Answered About OPP Costing

For the first time in an election campaign, the burg watch provided a forum for Amherstburg residents to submit questions to council candidates in 2014.

As a result, questions were raised about police costings, a hot topic given the amount of debt the municipality burdened its ratepayers with.

Of those that were elected, here’s how they answered:

Question 6. Obtain OPP Costing, Remove Contract Clause

No answer.

Question 13. Police Contract Buyout Clause

No answer

Question 18. Eliminate Police Contract Poison Pill Clause

Q. Do you believe the Poison Pill Clause should be eliminated in the Police Contract in order to get an OPP costing to compare the costs of policing of OPP versus Amherstburg Police.

A. I believe this part of the contract should be negotiated out of the contract so we can be on the same playing field as the rest of the Province I getting the best bang for the dollar.