Amherstburg Police Services Board Decided On Cheap Silver Badge

Commentary by Linda Saxon

You might recall the March 14, 2015 post, Amherstburg Police – A Cheap And Shameful Sendoff regarding Sgt. Jim Saxon’s differential treatment and how, unlike other retiring police officers, he received a cheap silver badge instead of the traditional gold.

At that time, I stated, “To treat one of their own officers with such disdain instigates nothing but disrespect and disgust from me.”

At that time I was unaware of some information, for example, who made the decision. I recently learned from a reputable source that two sets of badges were ordered – one in silver for all retiring officers in 2013/2014 and another in gold for everyone but Sgt. Saxon.

I emailed Mayor DiCarlo today to express my disgust; that it’s a disgraceful send off and, in my opinion, illustrates a lack of professionalism and enmity by the decision maker.

Mayor DiCarlo confirmed that it was a Board decision and he did anticipate it might be an issue.

A more detailed history can be found at bullyinginpolicing.com.

The Amherstburg Police Services Board members, as listed on the town’s website were:

as of November 18, 2014
Councillor John Sutton
Frank Cleminson
Pauline Gemmell
Wayne Hurst

as of December 16, 2014
Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, successful municipal candidate
Councillor Jason Lavigne, successful municipal candidate
Pauline Gemmell, Chair, unsuccessful muncipal candidate
Frank Cleminson, unsuccessful muncipal candidate

as of January 20, 2015
Mayor Aldo DiCarlo

Councillor Jason Lavigne
Pauline Gemmell
Frank Cleminson
Patricia Simone

as of March 17, 2015
Mayor Aldo DiCarlo
Councillor Jason Lavigne 
Pauline Gemmell
Patricia Simone
Robert Rozankovic

I remember some campaign promises to be responsible, accountable, transparent, etc. Wayne Hurst did not run.

The following quotes were published in the River Town Times during the 2014 campaign:

John Sutton “At the end of the day, we’ve had enough negativity,” he said. “For every challenge we have, let’s turn it into opportunity, put our best foot forward so we are in the paper for all the right reasons.”

Aldo DiCarlo A need for greater transparency, accountability and fixing the town’s finances are among the top priority for Aldo DiCarlo. “Why aren’t we discussing everything openly?” he said. “In any decisions being made, I’ll make them for the people who elected me as mayor,” he pledged. “If people are telling me something is wrong, I will address it. Period,” he said.

Jason Lavigne “I tried to educate myself on how things run and how you do things properly. I learned a great deal over the last four years.”

Pauline Gemmell “You have to be open-minded and listen to positions others have as well,” said Gemmell.

Frank Cleminson “I want to bring a team approach to council. I want transparency, accountability and a good dialogue on all the issues that come before us.” While it is fine to debate and disagree on issues, he said that animosity must not occur.

Robert Rozankovic “I see a lot of petty bickering,” said Rozankovic, who questions if council members vote with their colleagues and personal agendas. “Once the road is decided upon, you leave all the pettiness behind. You can’t continue with the bickering because you don’t agree with the decision.”

Not surprisingly, some of the board minutes are not posted and it is unknown when the decision was made.

Amherstburg Police – A Cheap And Shameful Sendoff

It has been a long standing tradition for police officers to receive a gold badge upon retirement; that is until Sgt. Saxon retired and received a cheap silver badge.

This wouldn’t be the first time that Saxon has received differential treatment, but it is the distasteful conclusion of a long history of 28 years and 8 months, a summary of which can be found at bullyinginpolicing.com, but in a nutshell:

  • he didn’t get promoted, despite being qualified
  • he was excluded from a succession plan
  • his personal medical information and that of his family’s was breached
  • fellow officers surreptitiously followed and reported on his and his family’s activities
  • i was surreptitiously investigated for an alleged criticism of the police
  • procedures were not followed for medals routinely given to others
  • police reported to great west life, “both him and his wife are activists and are always on about something, they have a website, etc.”
  • the board dismissed my subsequent complaint about Berthiaume following a one-sided investigation
  • he was denied benefits once he turned 60, contrary to the Ontario Human Rights Code.

I can understand how entrenched the local attitude is, coming from local residents who want to keep the local cops, despite the estimated extra million or million and half cost to the taxpayer every year.

However, no one will ever convince me that the local police are somehow worth keeping, a sentiment shared by others I’ve had conversations with, including ‘locals.’

To treat one of their own officers with such disdain instigates nothing but disrespect and disgust from me.

Commentary by Linda Saxon

Town council to seek RFP for legal services

Town Council has examined legal fees of $1.4 million from 2010-14 and has decided to seek an RFP (request for proposal). The legal fees for the Amherstburg Police have not been mentioned; as previously noted, Amherstburg Police Chief Tim Berthiaume stated, “the amherstburg police service does not ‘breakdown’ legal expenses.” As inevitably happens in a small town, there is a rumour that a certain ‘local lawyer’ is in a favourable position. River Town Times full article.

Niagara Regional Policing Costs Inequitable Claims Councillor

As reported in the Niagara Advance, Niagara-on-the-Lake Councillor Collard would like to see Niagara Region look at the new OPP billing model as one option for fixing the inequities to the way Niagara municipalities pay for policing.

For example, he says, Niagara-on-the-Lake pays about 7.2% of the cost of policing, with only 1.8% of the calls.

The NRP budget for this year is $142 million. Of that, Niagara-on-the-Lake residents pay $10.2 million – almost $2.5 million more than it costs to run the Town.

And that figure has risen 25% since 2011, he says.

Police service costs translate to $1,713 per household or $662 per person, in NOTL, with less than 2% of the calls.

Read the full story.

Amherstburg Police Patrol Zones Changed After Amalgamation

Commentary by Linda Saxon

Following amalgamation, the Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services’ decision regarding the ‘new’ policing proposal was, “From the standpoint of staffing, deployment and supervision, the proposal overall appears sound, and if the proposal is implemented as presented, it should allow for adequate and effective policing in the Town of Amherstburg.”

Three patrol zones were proposed with 24 hour a day policing and a maximum strength per 12 hour shift of six officers: 3 in Zone 1, 1 in each of Zones 2 and 3. Another officer would support all three zones as may be required.

The minimum strength per 12 hour shift was to be one officer per zone with a minimum strength of four officers until 4:00 a.m.

By 2010, as noted on page 8 of the Amherstburg Police Service Annual Report, “The Town is divided into 2 patrol zones ensuring that all areas receive an ongoing police presence.”

In a December 9, 2011 commentary, Amherstburg Police Chief Berthiaume Tight-lipped About Deployment, I asked, how will we know if we’re getting the service that was proposed if there is no accountability?

The question is just as relevant today; the only way to determine the best policing option for our community is to undertake a full comparison and obtain an OPP costing. Council’s decision should not be a subjective one based on speculation or fears, but an objective one based on facts and figures.

Five of the seven essex county municipalities are policed by the OPP as are 324 of the 444 Ontario municipalities; what have we got to lose?

Amherstburg Police Association Silent On Police Contract

It has been one week since Shawn McCurdy, President, Amherstburg Police Association, was advised of this blog, the readers’ questions pertaining to the OPP clause of the police contract and Berthiaume’s presentation to the Amherstburg Citizens for Responsible Government (ACRG). McCurdy was asked to comment on the Association’s position regarding the clause; i.e. maintain, remove?

Council Could Cut More

monica wolfson’s updated April 16 windsor star blog post reports that amherstburg town council has not yet adopted its budget and will continue deliberations on april 24.

I would rather decide for myself which, if any, charitable organizations I would support than have council arbitrarily direct taxpayers’ money to some charitable organizations like the House of Shalom, a facility that is not accessible to everyone.

It isn’t the first time that council considered directing visitors to the Gordon House instead of the Front Road centre, nor is it the first time I objected. As a town-owned facility, the municipality is obliged to consider accessibility pursuant to provincial accessibility legislation; additionally, the town could be susceptible to a human rights complaint given the lack of accessibility at the Gordon House.

I would have thought the town learned its lesson after my decade long battle and subsequent human rights decision resulting in the library elevator. A recent HRTO decision against 1762668 Ontario Inc., owned by Rennie and Anne Rota, confirmed a landlord’s responsibility.

Cutting council’s portion of the budget would hinder communication with constituents – really? How many times do councillors respond to emails and/or telephone calls?

Policing costs and/or any proposed cuts to the police budget are missing. In an April 8, 2014 CKLW post, Police Chief Tim Berthiaume was confident council will approve the police budget, saying his force is one of the most cost-effective in the province.

The 2012 Annual Report of the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario included a Cost Comparison of Municipal Police Services, 2011; the estimated per capita cost of police services for a population between 15,000 and 49,999 was:

  • Municipal Police Service $284.00
  • OPP – with contract $150.00
  • OPP – no contract $131.00

According to OPP estimates, municipalities with and without contracts save on average anywhere from 35% to 60% by using the OPP instead of having their own police forces.

Since the Amherstburg Police collective agreement expires the end of 2014, now is the most opportune time to obtain an OPP costing and delete the OPP takeover clause. Amherstburg taxpayers have long supported a police department hierarchy unparalleled by similar-sized OPP detachments. If council had acted sooner, say at least 12 years ago, it might not have had to entertain the selling of Essex Power shares for $12 million.

There seems to be some misinformation regarding the police budget and the responsibilities of the police services board and council, but both are clearly set out in the Police Services Act:

Estimates

  1. (1)  The board shall submit operating and capital estimates to the municipal council that will show, separately, the amounts that will be required,

(a) to maintain the police force and provide it with equipment and facilities; and

(b) to pay the expenses of the board’s operation other than the remuneration of board members.

Same

(2)  The format of the estimates, the period that they cover and the timetable for their submission shall be as determined by the council.

Budget

(3)  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.

Same

(4)  In establishing an overall budget for the board, the council does not have the authority to approve or disapprove specific items in the estimates.

Commission hearing in case of dispute

(5)  If the board is not satisfied that the budget established for it by the council is sufficient to maintain an adequate number of police officers or other employees of the police force or to provide the police force with adequate equipment or facilities, the board may request that the Commission determine the question and the Commission, shall, after a hearing, do so. 1997, c. 8, s. 26.

Council can do more and should do so – just say no to frivolous requests and spending.

Commentary by Linda Saxon

 

Amherstburg Police Chief Berthiaume Tight-lipped About Deployment

Commentary by Linda Saxon

it’s time for budget deliberations and wish lists and i was curious about some of the costs associated with the amherstburg police service. in a december 5, 2011 letter from chief tim berthiaume, legal fees, as of december 5, 2011, were $18768.57 for 2011. in a december 9, 2011 letter from chief tim berthiaume, he stated, “the amherstburg police service does not ‘breakdown’ legal expenses.” he further stated that, “as of december 5, the amherstburg police service has spent $23,589.85 on consultants.”

in response to my request for the number of days in 2011 where less than four officers were on patrol, berthiaume stated,”i will not be providing you with this information for the following reason. the release of this information could reasonably be expected to make their work more dangerous in many situations endangering the life or physical safetly of our law enforcement officers.”

where is the logic to a claim of endangerment in the present/future tense when the year has passed?

the ontario civilian commission on police services considered the amalgamation proposal to abolish the amherstburg and anderdon police services and stated, in its decision, “From the standpoint of staffing, deployment and supervision, the proposal overall appears sound, and if the proposal is implemented as presented, it should allow for adequate and effective policing in the Town of Amherstburg.”

one of the proposals for consideration in the application was:

“Patrol Zones:

The Town will be divided into three patrol zones by using the former boundaries of the old Town of Amherstburg, Township of Anderdon and Township of Malden. Accordingly, the new three patrol zones are as follows:

Each zone will be patrolled 24 hours a day. The maximum strength per 12 hour shift will be six officers:

Zone 1: Amherstburg
Zone 2: Anderdon and
Zone 3: Malden

Each zone will be patrolled 24 hours a day. The maximum strength per 12 hour shift will be six officers:

Zone 1: 3 officers;
Zone 2: 1 officer and
Zone 3: 1 officer

Another officer will support all three zones as may be required.

The minimum strength per 12 hour shift will be one officer per zone. However, it should be noted a four officer minimum strength will be in place until 4:00 a.m. (12 hour night shift). On the night shifts, there will be a minimum of four officers (two officers will cover zone 1, one officer in each of zone 2 and zone 3). After 4:00 a.m., there will be one officer in zone 1 supplying additional coverage to all other zones if required.”

NOTE: i noted the map in the community room with two patrol zones; also, the Amherstburg Police Service 2010 Annual Report states, “The Town is divided into 2 patrol zones ensuring that all areas receive an ongoing police presence.” The Patrol Zone map can be viewed on page 8 of the report.

The proposal also outlines a community business plan with three broad initiatives; number 1 was, “establish a police service – with an overall strategy, targets and accountability.”

how will we know if we’re getting the service that was proposed, if there is no accountability?

Another A’burg Police Officer Charged

a third amherstburg police officer has been charged in over two years:

  1. Sgt. Jim Saxon in June 2009
  2. Sgt. Colleen Sterling in September 2011 under Chief Tim Berthiaume
  3. Const. Andrew Challans in November 2011 under Chief Tim Berthiaume

Only Sterling’s and Challlans’ cases were reported in the media.  i have to wonder –  what is the cost to the burg residents? isn’t it time for council to compare municipal policing costs with the OPP?