Friday, July 12, 2024

Municipal Policing: Different Responsibilities Yes…Superior No…

Letter to the Editor

Editor,

The current policing debate for the Municipality of Meaford is a tough decision for the future council following the upcoming municipal elections with much debate taking place over the situation. This article has not been written to extend the virtues of one policing option, the Owen Sound Police Service (OSPS) proposal, over another, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP). That is the responsibility of both the new Owen Sound and Meaford councils in co-ordination with their separate retained consultants to make any such decision.

It should be noted that the Police Services Act, R.S.O. 1990, as well as Ontario Regulation 3/99 Adequacy and Effectiveness of Police Services provide the operating procedures on how police services are provided within a municipality, as well as any shared policing agreements to provide specialty services to the municipality so that those costs are not duplicated or a burden to that sole municipality. Both Owen Sound and Meaford must adhere to these standards regardless of the choice of policing provider.

However, the debate seems to have gravitated from one related primarily to yearly estimated policing costs – as in who can provide the most cost efficient policing options based upon a comprehensive review of the expected infrastructure required to provide such service delivery as per the Police Services Act and Adequacy Standards – versus some growing mis-perception that one policing option is “superior” to all others across the Province.

There has been reference within the various media reports of this process questioning “What’s in it for Owen Sound”? There have been comments referring to members of the Owen Sound Police Service as a “Barney Fife” breed of police officer. More recently, current Meaford council members as well as those vying for election have made reference to OPP officers being
“superior” to their municipal counterparts.

What’s in it for Owen Sound”?

Since I do not represent the city proposal that is not my argument to make. However, when current Meaford council members reference this statement, it would appear that they are totally upset with the very fact that a costing proposal was provided by Owen Sound in the first place. Unless I am missing something from this equation the request was indeed made by the current Meaford council for Owen Sound to provide a police costing. It should be no surprise then that those same councilors might be able to answer that very question themselves since they originally made the very request for such a costing proposal. Quite simply, if Meaford council did not want a proposal provided from Owen Sound they had all the options under the Police Services Act to retain the OPP and avoid this lengthy process from taking place in the first place.

Barney Fife”

All police officers within the Province of Ontario, whether they are with a municipal police service or the OPP are graduates of the Ontario Police College (OPC) in Alymer, Ontario. Additional courses such as criminal investigations and identification services are provided via OPC, the Canadian Police College, or satellite courses hosted at police service locations throughout the Province. Owen Sound has hosted numerous types of these off-site courses. Many of our members have instructed at these off-site courses as well as at OPC. Police officers from various municipal police services and the OPP have attended these courses. Does this mean that the OPP officers attending a course hosted by a municipal police service are lowering their standards by attending such a course? That answer should speak for itself – but I will answer it very clearly. Absolutely not.

Superiority”

The OPP is composed of approximately 6,200 uniform and 3,600 civilian members. All trained professionals who work hard every day to keep communities safe, healthy, and prosperous across nearly a million square kilometres of land and 100,000 square kilometres of waterways. The OPP operates out of 165 detachments, five regional headquarters, one divisional headquarters and a general headquarters in Orillia. Members of the OPP, not part of the Senior Officer Command are represented by the Ontario Provincial Police Association (OPPA) which is a separate entity from their municipal police counterparts.

The Owen Sound Police Association is a proud part of the Police Association of Ontario (PAO). Founded in 1933, the PAO is the unifying voice for Ontario’s professional municipal police personnel. Our membership consists of over 18,000 police and civilian members composed of professional and dedicated municipal police personnel from across Ontario, including: Amherstburg, Aylmer, Barrie, Belleville, Brantford, Brockville, Chatham-Kent, Cobourg, Cornwall, Deep River, Dryden, Durham Regional, Espanola, Gananoque, Guelph, Halton Regional, Hamilton, Hanover, Kingston, Kirkland Lake, LaSalle, Lindsay (Kawartha Lakes), London, Midland, Niagara Regional, Niagara Parks, North Bay, Orangeville, Ottawa, Owen Sound, Peel Regional, Peterborough, Port Hope, Sarnia, Saugeen Shores, Sault Ste. Marie, Shelburne, Smiths Falls, South Simcoe, St. Thomas, Stirling-Rawdon, Stratford, Strathroy-Caradoc Greater Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Timmins, Waterloo Regional, West Grey, West Nipissing, Windsor, Wingham, Woodstock, and York Regional.

It is our understanding, that all police officers, whether OPP or municipal, are professionals composed and representative of our diverse communities and backgrounds throughout the Province. All police officers, whether OPP or municipal are required to obtain the same training and provide the same level of service through the above noted Adequacy Standards to the citizens of Ontario. To suggest otherwise, is simply a lack of educating oneself with the facts available.

Does the OPP provide different types of policing to the Province of Ontario based upon the direction of the Province? Absolutely. However, remember these mandates are delegated and funded by the Province. Whatever the specialty, such as a helicopter in the search for a missing person or other investigative agency support, such as a homicide, the funding for such a unit has already been provided through the taxes of all the citizens of this Province. To claim otherwise is misleading.

Does this capability afforded by being the Provincial police service make every member of the OPP superior to his or her municipal counterparts? Absolutely not. Does this mean that an OPP officer transferring to a municipal service instantly makes that member inferior? No. Does this mean that an officer transferring from a municipal service to the OPP instantly becomes superior by the very transfer? Absolutely not.

As stated earlier, the final answer to the Meaford policing situation is strictly a political decision that will be made within the parameters of the political arena in consultation with the various stakeholders. I wish those new members of Meaford council the best of luck with whatever their decision may be. I just hope that it is remembered that whatever final choice is made – the decision was not made on a false understanding that one service provider has superior personnel over the other. All members are trained, equipped and provided the same resources no matter where they are employed – making them equal – not superior – in providing professional and dedicated policing to all communities throughout the Province. That is simply considered adequate and effective policing.

Yours truly,

William (Bill) Rusk

President

Owen Sound Police Association

Be the 1st to vote.

Popular this week

Latest news