Reporter’s And Individual’s Requests For Information Compared

How does a reporter’s experience compare to the average residential taxpayer where there may not be an incentive to quickly comply with requests for information?

Julie Kotsis, the Windsor Star, reported that Amherstburg CAO John Miceli responded to her email on Day 2.

My experience requesting information from the Town of Amherstburg and Windsor Police differs.

For example, information that should have been readily available required an almost two-year formal appeal process and an Order for the town to search for more records. Windsor Police objected to the disclosure of its Amherstburg policing proposal which resulted in a two-year wait for an Information and Privacy Commission Order to disclose all but two pages of the 131- page document.

Mayor DiCarlo advised the appropriate avenue was through a written inquiry sent to Windsor Police for information pertaining to the utilization of specialty units in the town of Amherstburg since the take-over.

Windsor Police referred me to the company that conducted its telephone survey, which did not respond. Back to Windsor Police who directed me to submit a Freedom of Information request.

Most recently, the town of Amherstburg insists it is fair to impose an $892.50 fee to complete a request for detailed information that the clerk and CAO publicly stated during a council meeting.

Over a year ago, I requested councillors consider creating a protocol to answer taxpayers’ and media inquiries. In response, the CAO advised the town is in the process of creating a Routine Disclosure and Active Dissemination Policy and, until adopted, requested that all information I seek be made through the formal process.

I repeated my request in April this year for council to adopt the Information and Privacy Commissioner recommended Routine Disclosure and Active Dissemination Policy, revised in 1998.

The town clerk advised COVID impacted services and only Councillor Prue supported it and reminded members of council that during the last election, they all said we need more openness and citizen involvement.

I wonder which will come first; a policy or more campaign promises to be open, transparent and accountable.

Commentary by Linda Saxon

Leamington Can’t, Amherstburg Can Afford Windsor Police

CBC reports, Windsor police proposal too pricey for Leamington council; OPP service to continue.

“At Monday’s meeting, council discussed a report from administration that looked at the WPS proposal. It showed that it would cost $9.4 million dollars to begin using WPS through 2022, which is more than $3 million dollars over the $6.1 million it would pay to continue using the OPP for the same period.

Administration said that would mean a 13 per cent raise in municipal taxes for property owners and it would equate to an average of a an average raise of $232 dollars per household.”

Information And Privacy Commission Order Concludes Appeal With Ministry Solicitor General

On today’s date, the Information and Privacy Commissioner Ontario orders the ministry to disclose the emails to the appellant (pages 98 and 99), except for the portion withheld on page 99 due to section 18(1)(d). Until the Order is available online, you can read PO-4127 revised by IPC for typos on March 31.

The Ministry and the town of Amherstburg objected to the disclosure and cited law enforcement exemptions.

Windsor police objected to disclosure of pages 142 and 143, floor plans, on the basis of the law enforcement harms in section 14(1) of the Act. In response, the appellant submitted, among other arguments, that the harms were not present because she already had a copy of the floor plans, which she provided, disclosed by The town of Amherstburg.

Windsor Police submitted, in part,

  • Recently a group of individuals stormed the Capital Building. During the investigation into this incident, a video was located. The footage depicts individuals discussing the floor plans to determine the best method to execute entry to the building.”
  • It is not my intent to infer that the requester will use this information for nefarious purposes; however, it has been established, in previous orders, that disclosure to one person is disclosure to the world.
  • It is for the reasons stated above access should be denied to the records. In my opinion, it is not imaginary to assume that the disclosure of the records may lead the theft of firearms, drugs, intelligence information or result in harm being committed against our officers or civilian staff.

Windsor Police Service Board Ordered To Disclose Additional Police Proposal Records

The Information and Privacy Commissioner Ontario issued Order MO-3927 regarding an Appeal of Windsor Police’s decision to withhold access to parts of its policing proposal to Amherstburg.

Read Want The Windsor Policing Proposal? Pay For It for a detailed background that began in June 2018. Mayor DiCarlo advised the Windsor response would be made public.

Windsor Police relied on several reasons for its decision, including discretionary exemptions: sections 11(f) (economic and other interests), 6(1)(b) (closed meeting), 8(1)(c) (reveal investigative techniques and procedures), (e) (endanger life or safety), (g) (intelligence information), (i) (security) and (l) (facilitate commission of an unlawful act).

ORDER:

  1. I do not uphold WPSB’s decision that section 52(3) applies to pages 23, 24, 28, 29 and 32 of the record and order it to issue an access decision with respect to the these pages. For the purposes of the procedural
    requirements of the access decision, the date of this order is to be treated as the date of the access request.
  2. I uphold the WPSB’s decision to deny access to the information on pages 45 and part of 47 (the code information only) on the basis of section 8(1) (l) of the Act .
  3. I order the WPSB to disclose the following pages of the record: 33, part of 47 (the non-code information), 48, 49, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 61, 62, 64, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 122, 130 and 131 by providing the appellant with a copy of these pages by July 7, 2020.
  4. In order to verify compliance with order provisions 1 and 3, I reserve the right to require the police to provide me with a copy of the access decision and the records sent to the appellant.
  5. The timelines in order provisions 1 and 3 may be extended if the police are unable to comply in light of the current COVID-19 situation. I remain seized of the appeal to address any such requests.

UPDATE: Windsor Police Service Information and Privacy Co-ordinator requested a 30 day extension from July 6, 2020.

Police Costing Comparison Amherstburg And Orangeville Part 2 Police Complement

  • Orangeville Police Complement            OPP Proposed Complement
  • Chief                                1                         Superintendent            0.58
  • Deputy                             1
  • Staff Sergeant                  2                         Staff Sergeant              1
  • Sergeant                          6                         Sergeant                      6
  • Constables                    31.8                       Constables                35
  • Overtime Equivalent         1.1                       Overtime Equivalent  1.1
  • Total Complement       42.9                      Total Complement 44.6
  • Amherstburg Police Complement          Windsor Police Proposed
  • Chief 1                                                        Shall be 30 full time including
  • Deputy 1                                                     the Officer in Charge.
  • Staff Sergeant 0
  • Sergeant 6
  • Constables 23
  • Special Constable 1
  • Total Complement 32                               Total Complement 30

Mayor DiCarlo’s Response RE Windsor Police 1 Year Anniversary Comment

As mentioned in the post, Windsor Police Takeover One Year Latertheburgwatch requested DiCarlo to expand, specifically, on what the ‘quite a bit of service’ is and submitted the following to him:

according to an am800 article re the one year anniversary of the windsor police takeover, you mentioned, “From what I can tell, on the surface, we’re actually getting more for our money which was really the key that we were looking into this for. Initially, it was really just saving money, but it looks like we’ve added quite a bit of service for cost savings.” for the burgwatch, would you expand, specifically, on what the ‘quite a bit of service’ is.”

A.  “I spoke to all of the news outlets about this issue, so I’ll have to try and recall the context.  That I remember for that particular article, the context of the statement was in relation to feedback received from residents regarding the increased presence of police officers across the town.”

Mayor DiCarlo Pleased With Windsor Police

Blackburn News reports how pleased Mayor DiCarlo is with the Windsor Police takeover.

DiCarlo is quoted in this article, “We have access to a lot of services that we never did before. Obviously Windsor Police is a much bigger operation with a lot more to offer,” said DiCarlo.

Have we not always had access to a lot of services?

It was my understanding that since the Amherstburg Police Services Board was obliged to provide adequate and effective policing we either had all the services that were required or had access to them through the OPP and/or Windsor.

Obviously, the OPP is an even bigger operation that also has a lot to offer but no OPP costing was obtained for comparison sake.

While the article also mentioned, “the town realized a half a million dollars in savings by switching over to the Windsor Police Service,” we never knew if we might have saved significantly more through a switch to the OPP.  After all, one of the corrective actions listed in the Deloitte Report 2014 was, “look for shared service opportunities with neighbouring municipalities,” which could have easily meant to share OPP policing with the majority of Essex County.

Windsor Police Takeover One Year Later

An am800 report, Amherstburg Mayor happy After One Year With New Police Service, quoted DiCarlo, “I’ve heard from almost nobody still opposed,” he says. “I’ve heard from a lot of people who were concerned early on and after the switch many of them have said that it turned out to be a really good idea. From the feedback I’m getting from the residents, it has made a very noticeable difference.”

“From what I can tell, on the surface, we’re actually getting more for our money which was really the key that we were looking into this for. Initially, it was really just saving money, but it looks like we’ve added quite a bit of service for cost savings.”

theburgwatch requested DiCarlo to expand, specifically, on what the ‘quite a bit of service’ is.

Coffee With A Cop: Windsor Police Apologize For ‘Misstep’

Windsor Police held its ‘Coffee With A Cop’ on June 27 at the Caffeine & Co., housed in an inaccessible building in Amherstburg, Ontario.

stairs a barrier to coffee with a cop in amherstburg, ontarioStairs at Caffeine & Co. = #Accessibility barrier! #AODAfail

Windsor, as a Proponent to the Amherstburg RFP Police Services, was informed in section 33, ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT (AODA), that it shall ensure that all its employees receive training regarding the provision of goods and services to per sons with disabilities in accordance with the AODA.

Windsor Police should have already created Accessible Customer Service policies pursuant to provincial legislation that included training:

7.(1) Every obligated organization shall ensure that training is provided on the requirements of the accessibility standards referred to in this Regulation and on the Human Rights Code as it pertains to persons with disabilities.

On February 24, 2011 the Windsor Police Service, Windsor Police Services Board, Ontario Human Rights Commission and Ontario Police College launched the Human Rights Project; Vision Statement:

The Windsor Police Service endeavours to be a professional, effective and accountable law enforcement organization that upholds the human rights and dignity of all people in accordance with the Ontario Human Rights Code. The Windsor Police Service is committed to playing its part in making Windsor a community where everyone lives, works and visits in a safe, comfortable and inclusive environment.

The Human Rights Project Final Report 2014 noted next steps:

The inclusion of human rights themes through all WPS training and the requirement to monitor training programs to ensure that human rights issues are being addressed on an ongoing basis, will assist WPS members to provide services to the public without discrimination.

As a long time accessibility advocate, I asked Windsor Police for an explanation and received the following:

“My name is Jason Bellaire and I am the Inspector in charge of our uniform patrol officers at the Windsor Police Service (WPS). I was not at the “Coffee with a Cop” event last night (due to a prior commitment); however, I am somewhat familiar with the location where the event was held. This appears to be a regretful oversight on our part as co-organizers of the event. Please accept my apology on behalf of WPS and I assure you that better consideration regarding accessibility will be given when planning future events.

We genuinely appreciate your bringing this issue to our attention and we always welcome any critical feedback from our community members, partners and stakeholders. Once again, please accept our apologies for this misstep and always feel free to contact us with any concerns. Have a safe and happy summer.”

As much as I appreciate the apology, after the fact, I would rather this type of incident not occur in the first place.

Commentary by Linda Saxon

Windsor Police Human Rights Complaints

Jason Viau, CBC news reported, Windsor police among forces with highest number of human rights complaints in Ontario.

According to the article, Retired constable John Boyle blames the Windsor Police Service for ongoing financial struggles and mental health issues after getting hurt on the job, claiming he was then discriminated against due to his disability.

Boyle is one of the 28 human rights complaints filed against Windsor police between 2008 to 2018. That puts Windsor among the top police forces with the highest number of complaints per capita, according to numbers obtained by CBC News through the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

“It felt almost like a personal vendetta against me or that they were out to get me and push me out,” said Boyle. “I wasn’t trying to be unreasonable. I just needed some help.”

Totally relatable.

Regional Policing Planned – Why?

CBC reported, Windsor police merging beyond Amherstburg ‘should be coming’, says chief.

The article includes, “We were late to the party at this end of the province. In the GTA and most geographic areas around the province, the idea of regional policing has been well-entrenched and has been successful for many years,” said Frederick.

I disagree.

There are only 6 regional police services in the province; the majority of communities are policed by the OPP and even some amalgamated communities switched to OPP to realize savings.

According to a 2018 TVO article, Contracting with the Windsor police service won’t produce as great a saving as contracting with the OPP. Currently, the Amherstburg service costs each of its households $658 a year. A five-year contract with the Windsor proposal would drop that cost to just under $600 a year. (And a contract with Windsor would produce some other savings for the municipality, adds DiCarlo, such as $3 million for the Amherstburg police’s long-term benefit costs.) By way of comparison, in 2014, Lewis estimated the OPP per household cost to be $360.

In 2015 CTV reported, No tangible benefit to municipal amalgamation: report.

Another study, Amalgamation of Police Services by John Kiedrowski, Ronald-Frans Melchers, Michael Petrunik, Rick Ruddell concluded, “The majority of studies focused on economies of scale also suggest, however, that there are limited or no cost efficiencies associated with larger municipal police departments (i.e., those policing more than 50,000 inhabitants).”

I have yet to find research indicating regionalization saves money.

Edited to add: The Star’s View: Regional police no cure for costs: Regional policing should be studied, although the likelihood of Essex County’s six towns agreeing to it are extremely low – as is the likelihood of a regional force saving any money.

Want The Windsor Policing Proposal? Pay For It

Windsor Police Service has issued a fourth decision letter regarding the request for its proposal that Mayor DiCarlo advised would be made public.

The November 19 letter stated, in part, “The fee for the records requested is $26.20. This fee is in addition to the $5.00 application fee already paid and is the cost to photocopy the records (131 pages @ .20 per page).”

RECAP:

Mayor DiCarlo advised me the Windsor response would be made public.

June 6, 2018 requested Paula Parker, town clerk, provide a link to the windsor police proposal, if it’s available online, or email a copy of it.

June 6, 2018 Paula Parker advised, The Windsor Police Proposal was not posted publicly as it was submitted to the Town with a confidentiality clause attached.  If you wish to receive a copy of the proposal, you would be required to request it from Windsor Police Services directly.

Windsor Police advised I had to file an FOI request.

June 11, 2018 FOI request to Windsor Police.

July 10, 2018 Windsor Police denied access to the proposal in its entirety, citing exemptions.

July 20, 2018 Appeal submitted to Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC) for two reasons: I disagreed the records are excluded from the Act and I believed more of the record should be disclosed.

August 3, 2018 Acknowledgement of Appeal from IPC.

August 29, 2018 Windsor Police revised decision letter; access is denied with added exemptions.

September 5, 2018 Notice of Mediation from the Information and Privacy Commissioner

September 12, 2018 Windsor Police; “the mediator assigned to this appeal has asked that I forward an Index of Exemptions.’ The exemptions cited corresponded with 57 pages.

November 19, 2018 Windsor Police; “during mediation of this appeal a further review of the records was conducted and partial access to the records granted.” A list of exemptions, revised November 19, was attached.

Windsor Staff Sgt. Refers To “Blue Code Of Silence”

The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario continued to hear Staff Sgt. Christine Bissonnette’s allegations regarding her not being promoted to Inspector.

The Windsor Star article includes, ‘A “blue code of silence” exists in the Windsor police department which repeatedly blocked her path to reach the administrative ranks of the upper echelon, a female officer with 31 years experience testified.’

“She alleged after obtaining documents related to the oral and written interview process, scores by the three-member interview team for the various candidates on various pages were either fixed to be the same, missing or changed afterwards.”

Bullying In Policing was created in 2002 to raise awareness about such incidents.