Public Meeting Re Windsor Police Takeover in Amherstburg

The Windsor Star reported, “The commission deciding the fate of Amherstburg police wants to meet with residents.”

According to the article, CAO Miceli said, “Public consultation is part of the OCPC’s process,” adding the public meetings are not meant to seek community approval.

The ONTARIO CIVILIAN POLICE COMMISSION (OCPC) is not required to hold a public meeting; in fact it did not hold one in St. Marys, the model often referred to. The OCPC asked the City of St. Marys to provide a written submission setting out the proposed policing arrangement and approved it.

However, OCPC will consult with Amherstburg residents regarding council’s decision to have Windsor Police take over policing in Amherstburg.

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.

Amherstburg’s Request For Proposal (RFP) Policing Services

Commentary by Linda Saxon

On November 14, 2017, I emailed CAO Miceli for the Request For Proposal.

Since I received no response from Miceli, on November 19 I emailed everyone on council requesting it from them.

Following some misunderstanding about what I was actually requesting, Mayor Aldo DiCarlo advised me that the Request For Proposal was public and would be forthcoming. 

The next day, on November 20, Miceli emailed the RFP AMHERSTBURG POLICE SERVICES.

Council Should Get Police Costings For ALL Options

Commentary by Linda Saxon

I submitted the following to be placed on council’s agenda, cc’d to members of council:

I request that you adhere to your commitment to obtaining an OPP costing and to follow the procedure set out in the OPP Information Manual, which includes community consultation.

This council has sought RFPs for legal services: “I just think it is fiscally responsible,” said Courtney, adding her belief that there are other firms that could give a competitive rate to the town.

Council also sought a Request for Proposals (RFP) to try and get more costings for the mosquito situation. Miceli also stated in his report to council that an RFP would address accountability and transparency issues as sole-sourcing the service could cause a political backlash. An RFP would also see if the town could get more value for their money, he added.

An RFP was issued for the Concession 2 North bridge.

The only way taxpayers will know if they are getting the most effective and efficient policing service is by a full cost comparison, which would include the OPP.

Our community deserves the full benefit of a cost comparison of all policing options as well as public meetings regarding the highest budget item.

Information About OPP Costing Process and Adequate And Effective Policing Readily Available

Commentary by Linda Saxon

The River Town Times article, OPP Does Not Give Costing by Ron Giofu, reports, in part, that DiCarlo didn’t doubt the OPP provides an excellent police service, he said he didn’t understand their costing model. He said while the town understands it would get “adequate and effective” policing from the OPP, “they won’t tell us exactly what that means.”

I would have thought that as an Amherstburg Police Services Board member, Mayor DiCarlo would have access to the Police Services Act, (PSA) that stipulates every municipality shall adequate and effective services in accordance with its needs and sets out, at a minimum what that must include.

Also, the October 20, 2017 Information Manual for the OPP Contract Proposal Process reiterates the same and also includes information about the Police Adequacy and Effectiveness Standards Regulation under the PSA :

“The Police Adequacy and Effectiveness Standards Regulation (Adequacy Standards) helps ensure the effective delivery of policing services. It was filed as O.Reg. 3/99 on January 8, 1999.

The regulation was part of the government’s overall strategy to provide Police Services Boards (PSB) and police services, the structure and tools they needed to ensure adequacy and effectiveness. All police services were to be in compliance by January 1, 2001.

Additionally, the regulation required all PSBs to develop a plan, setting out the steps needed to be taken by the board and the police service in order to meet the requirements of the regulation.

The Adequacy Standards regulation content is high level. It provides flexibility in implementation, including service delivery i.e. contracting with another police service or organization, or providing crime prevention initiatives on a regional or cooperative basis.

The primary focus of the Adequacy Standards regulation is on what police services do, and not how they should do it. Overall, it is designed to ensure that all Ontarians receive core police services.”

The OPP’s Information Manual clearly sets out costing timelines and steps, and oh, look at step 6:

“Municipal Council Consideration/Public Consultation and Decision.”

Have Amherstburg taxpayers been denied an opportunity to compare and provide input on ALL police costing proposals? Since it is only after council’s decision to move forward with the ‘local’ or Windsor Police options, I have to ask, as Mayoral candidate Aldo DiCarlo did during the 2014 campaign: “Did a single one of the current council members do their due diligence in requesting an OPP costing early enough so that we could have reviewed our options now that the contract is being negotiated? I believe the answer is no, and I’d be happy to be wrong.”

In response to the Commentary, “No Commitment To Remove OPP Clause In Police Contract,” then- Mayoral Candidate Aldo DiCarlo’s full comment posted on October 17, 2014 was:

This is an issue that I have spent a considerable amount of time on, specifically because of the large potential savings, $1M or more. At last night’s debate, Deputy Mayor Suttherland stated that an OPP costing takes at least 18 months. As a taxpaying resident, not a just a mayoral candidate, this both angers and frustrates me. If it does indeed take this amount of time, why then did not a single council member make the motion to request the OPP costing. If one of them did, I would like to know who and why it was voted down. ALL contracts have an expiry date. Did a single one of the current council members do their due diligence in requesting an OPP costing early enough so that we could have reviewed our options now that the contract is being negotiated? I believe the answer is no, and I’d be happy to be wrong.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo Comments on Commentary About Police Costing

Note: CAO John Micelli has not responded to a request for the policing Request for Proposal. Since the original commentary was in response to information and quotes in the Windsor Star, no corrections will be made.

The Mayor’s comment is set out below here and following the original post, Policing In Amherstburg – Who Knows Best?

Aldo DiCarlo on said

No disrespect, but your assumption of what was presented for ALL parties to quote, is not correct. The assumption that we demanded the organisational structure we currently have remain in tact is incorrect. What we provided as our guidelines was that any parties confirm their costing. For example, if we asked for 3 or 6 officers, we expected to have that confirmed in returned service. We are not going to pay for patrols we aren’t getting. The OPP model will tell you what they believe you need, fair enough, but they won’t confirm that you will get what you pay for. As mayor, accountable to confirm the taxpayers funds are being used accordingly, I am not okay with that. The OPP did not opt not to cost because they didn’t agree with our service levels, they declined to cost because they refuse to confirm service levels after you’ve contracted them. This I have confirmed with other municipalities who have switched to OPP. There will be a definite savings offered by Windsor, which residents will see as equal to or better than OPP’s current model, the question is “are residents even interested in switching to enjoy those savings?”. So far, the resounding answer to me has been ‘no thanks, we’ll pay the extra’. Thanks for keeping Amherstburg residents informed.

Also note, any typos were originated from the commenter’s submission.

Policing In Amherstburg – Who Knows Best?

Commentary by Linda Saxon

RE: Amherstburg reviews policing proposal from Windsor by Julie Kotsis, The Windsor Star

In my opinion, the Town of Amherstburg did a disservice to its taxpayers when it issued a policing Request for Proposal that ‘emulated the same level of service that we presently have.’

No wonder Windsor was the only police service to meet the RFP guidelines, which include a top- heavy hierarchy mirrored in other municipal police services but unparallel in OPP detachments.

Had Amherstburg elected officials not persistently maintained a municipal police service since its 1997 amalgamation with Anderdon and Malden, taxpayers could have realized an approximate one million dollar savings annually.

The then-Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services decided the newly amalgamated police service should have allowed for adequate and effective policing if the proposal was implemented as presented; it was for a while.

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 and another officer would support all three zones as may be required.

By 2010, the Amherstburg Police Service Annual Report noted, “The Town is divided into 2 patrol zones ensuring that all areas receive an ongoing police presence.” Amherstburg Police Chief Berthiaume would not provide me with information relative to my 2011 request for the number of days in that year where less than four officers were on patrol.

In addition to the change in patrol zones, the police services board and police association agreed to a ‘poison pill’ contract clause that would cost taxpayers heavily if the municipality ever decided to choose OPP policing. Both parties should have known it was unnecessary because no policing model would have been approved unless officers were dealt with fairly and there was an arbitration process if necessary.

Policing was a hot election campaign issue in 2014 when residents questioned candidates about committing to council obtaining an OPP costing and/or removing the ‘poison pill’ clause. the burg watch posted all questions from residents and all candidates’ answers provided during the 2014 election campaign.

Mayoral candidate Aldo DiCarlo stated, in part, “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.”

Councillor candidate Jason Lavigne stated, “I believe there should be a cost comparison between the opp and our local service done. In order to get a true idea of the possible cost savings the “poison pill” needs to be addressed. Unfortunately this can only be done by the police services board and not council.”

Rather than now dictate the status quo policing model, council should have sought extensive public input to determine the community’s policing needs.

By continuing to narrowly focus on a municipal policing service model, despite the majority of the province realizing cost savings through OPP, Amherstburg taxpayers will be denied the opportunity to know the most cost effective police service option.

New Amherstburg Police Tools Questioned

Not surprisingly, council approved another annual Amherstburg Police Services Board budget without much debate.

According to the River Town Times budget article, “Meloche asked about the necessity of the new non-lethal beanbag guns, stating he didn’t want the municipality to spend money it didn’t have to.”

A lofty principle but, historically, Amherstburg taxpayers have supported Amherstburg Police wish lists thanks to council’s commitment to maintaining a local police service whatever the costs.

The RTT article continued, “Berthiaume stated “It’s just another tool in the toolbox.” Lavigne, who is also chair of the police services board, complimented the service and Berthiaume stating that being first to do something puts Amherstburg ahead of others.”

So now being first is a priority?

Well it was important enough for Amherstburg taxpayers to be the first in Ontario to bear the expense of the controversial police body worn cameras and storage despite large police services not being able to find the money to purchase them.

And, for decades Amherstburg taxpayers have borne the cost of a five member Amherstburg Police Services Board when three members were recommended for a municipality under 25,000 as per the Police Services Act. Only by a council resolution can the composition increase to that of a large municipality so council must believe a large board in our small municipality is required.

Rather than switch to the more taxpayer friendly OPP during the 1998 amalgamation, or since, we taxpayers have paid for a top-heavy hierarchical police service that one might also find in a large city.

Following the amalgamation and local policing option, both the Amherstburg Police Services Board and Amherstburg Police Association agreed to a collective agreement with a hefty OPP buyout clause that effectively stifled more than a passing thought of switching to the cost saving OPP.

We taxpayers have also easily handled all the Amherstburg Police litigation costs, which, on one occasion, the Amherstburg Police Services Board considered ‘privileged information; the only information available to the public is overall legal costs’ which was all that was ever requested – never a line by line justification of legal fees.

I agree that the bean bag guns are an unnecessary purchase. Elected officials’ spending on behalf of taxpayers needs to reflect the fact that we live in a small town in trying economic times where taxpayers can ill afford big city big ticket items for ‘what if’ policing scenarios.

Commentary Linda Saxon

Police Costing Facts & Myths

The choice of a police service delivery model in any municipality is contentious.

During the costing phase, posturing takes place and Amherstburg is not unique: ratepayers have a vested interest in the municipality’s highest budget item and politicians may mention loss of control.

However, unlike other municipalities, the Amherstburg Police Association and the Amherstburg Police Services Board agreed to hefty buyouts that inhibited the possibility of costing options.

A new tab is being added to the burg watch called Police Costing Facts & Myths.

New Enhanced Accessible Parking Permit (APP) and Enforcement-Related Supports

Commentary by Linda Saxon

All Chiefs of Police, Ontario’s municipalities, and the Municipal Law Enforcement Officers Association have been advised about the new enhanced Accessible Parking Permit (APP) and enforcement-related supports.

Enforcement of accessible parking infractions in Amherstburg in the past, verified by former Police Chief Roger Hollingworth, was minimal; he confirmed that Amherstburg did not have new tickets for bylaw enforcement until January 30, 2009.

In 2009, the Amherstburg Police Service issued one accessible parking infraction and one more by the spring of 2010; Hollingworth advised the town By-Law Officer may also have issued some but he did not have that information or specific information relative to the number that were contested and/or proceeded to trial and/or convictions, if any.

Since the Town of Amherstburg 2015 Public Events Manual contains outdated terminology, for example, “disabled persons parking spaces and Designated Disabled Parking spaces;” it needs to be updated to reflect the fact that the Accessible Parking Permit (APP) was renamed years ago.

And, although the manual mentions barrier free, there is no reference regarding what barrier free standard, if any, is to be implemented.

Not one member of the current council responded to my suggestions to improve and update the town’s Public Events Manual.

What Do Amherstburg And LaSalle Have In Common?

Commentary by Linda Saxon

In yesterday’s Windsor Star, Columnist Anne Jarvis promoted the benefits of regional government and proposed, “How about one regional police force, cutting administration costs and providing all special services, from tactical team to canine unit, within minutes.”

Jarvis didn’t mention any studies that show there were no benefits from amalgamation nor the Auditor General’s Report documenting the cost savings to OPP policed communities.

Jarvis critiqued “politicians like LaSalle Mayor Ken Antaya, who snarled recently, “What do we have in common with the City of Windsor? We share a border. That’s about it.”

What Do Amherstburg And LaSalle Have In Common? Besides sharing a border, both Amherstburg and LaSalle Police Services Boards were sued by one of their own police officers.

Ian Russell was a defendant in Praskey v. Toronto Police Services Board, retired from Toronto Police in 1995, then resigned from the Ontario Parole Board to become Chief of LaSalle Police Service in April, 1997.

Russell was a defendant in Renaud vs. LaSalle Police Services Board; he retired in 2000 amid controversy.

In Saxon vs. Wilfred Fryer and Amherstburg Police Services Board, the local news reported that Fryer was named as chief and that the motion was rescinded.

Policing options are contentious in any community and debate is sometimes clouded by the perpetuation of myths, fear mongering and misinformation.