Council Should Honour OPP Costing Motions For Cost Savings

The two #Amherstburg Council motions pertaining to OPP costing that were never rescinded and stand then-Mayor DiCarlo advised, and council’s February 8, 2023 discussion of Policing, compelled me to write my letter to the editor, River Town Times.

December 2014 motion:
“Administration BE DIRECTED to contact the OPP to obtain police costing for our municipality and
Administration BE DIRECTED to send correspondence to the surrounding municipalities to see if there is interest in shared police services.

January 19, 2017 motion:
Develop an RFP for costing for Windsor and LaSalle to respond to
Explore and analyze possibility of amalgamation with LaSalle and/or Windsor
Work with the OPP on the OPP costing
Report back to Council with the Joint Police AdvisoryCommittee findings and recommendations.

Maybe no delegates were at the meeting because it was not widely advertised, notification emails weren’t received, and it was held at 5 pm on a Wednesday.

I requested council to honour the December 5, 2022 motion to extend the renewal deadline to March 31, 2023; Mayor Prue’s explanation to the public gallery for the extension was so public consultations could be held between December 5 and March.

I pictured public consultations like the original Windsor Police proposal or like those for short-term rentals, Co-An Park, budget, ATV use, Howard Industrial Park District, Warren Mickle Eco Park Project, and Economic Development Community Improvement Plan.

Between December 5 and March 31, council will have had about 25 meetings, but the December 5 motion was only to extend, not schedule public meetings.

Without public consultations no one should claim, as Councillor McArthur has, ‘it’s an indication people are fine with the status quo.’ The survey results were only 1% of 90% of the residents.

As for the savings, the contract renewal is as much a disservice to Amherstburg ratepayers as the original was.

The reported 2023 savings is a paltry $348,441.00, compared to the 2017 suggested annual average savings of $567,802.00 or, as Deputy Mayor Gibb mentioned, around $2 million a year savings with the OPP.

Savings of $1,742,205. over 5 years with Windsor or around $10 million with the OPP – that’s significant savings. Imagine a pool, pickle ball courts, an accessible town hall, better roads, winterized park washrooms, etc., rather than fundraising for parks, welcoming sponsors or approving over expenditures.

In ten years with Windsor, expected savings of $3,484,410., compared to $20,000,000. with OPP.

While the previous council could have set aside more for police reserves, this current council could have honoured public consultation commitments instead of renewing a contract just because it ran out of time.

It is this council that will need to obtain the promised OPP costing during this term to avoid missing any further deadlines and funding for amenities.

Commentary by Linda Saxon

Police Costing Comparison Amherstburg And Orangeville Part 4 Mayor’s Statement

Part 4 of this series was delayed pending the outcome of my January 17 request to Mayor DiCarlo. A simple question resulted in a complicated process without an answer; more on that below and in a future post.

Orangeville Mayor Brown issued a formal Statement on Orangeville Council’s OPP decision the day after and it is posted on the town of Orangeville’s site.

January 17 to DiCarlo, one of the questions submitted regarding the Windsor Police takeover was: would you please provide me with any official statement you issued as mayor regarding the vote in favour of the windsor police takeover.

January 20, Mayor DiCarlo’s response was: Unfortunately I do not keep personal records of the information you are requesting as the Town is responsible for such.  Please forward your requests to the CAO’s office.

January 20 to DiCarlo: just to clarify, i’m not requesting personal records and i do not believe the town is responsible for an official statement you may have issued as mayor. my question is simply did you issue one in relation to the windsor police takeover?

January 20 from DiCarlo: I understood what you were requesting. Any official statements I made would have been forwarded by/through the Town, not me personally.  I don’t keep copies of those.  If they were made to the media, they would be available in the media.  I do not keep a record of all of my media interviews. I cannot provide records of information I do not keep.  However, the parties I referred to do keep those records, thus my referral to the CAO’s office.

January 20 to Miceli: since the mayor has referred me to contact you, i’m requesting any official statement the mayor issued regarding the vote in favour of the windsor police takeover.

January 27 to Miceli: followup

February 12 to council: request that council consider creating a protocol to answer inquiries from taxpayers and media; mentioned a couple of examples of exchanges with town employees, including Miceli not answering January 20 and 27 emails.

February 12: DiCarlo forwarded request to council to CAO Miceli with an FYI notation.

February 18 from Miceli, in part: I will request that all information you seek be made through MFIPPA process and the Clerk will determine the appropriate dissemination of information. This is the proper way to handle your requests.

February 18 to Miceli: not all requests require a formal FOI request when dealing with an open government; since I believe one is unnecessary in this instance, my requests stand. the mayor claimed you have the records so you will have to decide whether or not to honour my requests. 

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?

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.

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.

Amherstburg To Request An OPP Costing

In anticipation of tonight’s council meeting, the CBC reports on Amherstburg’s request to the Minister of Community Safety for an OPP costing.

Did you notice any posturing?

Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara said, “For us, OPP has been a tremendous fit.”

Mayor DiCarlo is quoted as saying, “We have talked to other municipalities who have switched and they did also mention there is a disconnection. For example, Amherstburg police are very involved in their community and you do see them in local events,” DiCarlo said. “I understand that when you switch to OPP, that’s something you might not notice. The OPP likely won’t be sending officers to go hang out at your sidewalk sale or Mardi Gras or whatever it is that you’re having, right? It’s just another thing you might notice different.”

In my opinion, Mayor DiCarlo should put his question to the OPP so that he could facilitate factual information to the public through the media, rather than speculation and possible fear-mongering.

In his March 7, 2016 Report To Council, CAO Miceli provides a background of the request, including council’s December 2014 motion, “Administration BE DIRECTED to contact the OPP to obtain police costing for our municipality.” I have been unable to obtain any correspondence from Administration regarding that motion.

Miceli’s Report also contains a recommendation to form a Police Advisory Committee (transition board) to further establish a mutually acceptable framework for review of policing options, consisting of :
The Police Chief
The Chief Administrative Officer
Two Members of Council
Two Members of the Police Services Board
One member of the Police Association.

Miceli’s Report also includes a RISK ANALYSIS that mentions the safe community designation and “There is a very high likelihood that a decision to move toward OPP service delivery will have significant political risk. It is also likely that the morale of police department may be negatively impacted until a decision is finalized.”