By Stephen Vance, Staff
The Owen Sound Police Service presented their proposal for assuming policing services in the Municipality of Meaford, and while some minor savings could be realized by switching service providers, are the savings enough to warrant a transition away from the OPP?
That is the question municipal staff and ultimately Meaford’s council must decide after senior staff review the proposal and present a report to council.
The proposed five year contract would cost Meaford nearly $1.8 million in the first year, and would increase in each of the following years, with the fifth year costing an estimated $1.98 million. In addition to those costs, Meaford would be responsible for provision and costs of a suitable space for a satellite police station to be housed.
While awaiting the proposal from Owen Sound, the municipality switched to a non-contract scheme which will cost the municipality $1.9 million in 2014. It is uncertain if and by how much OPP service costs will increase after the coming year.
On hand for the presentation were Owen Sound Police Chief Bill Sornberger and consultant Mike Mitchell, along with members of the Police Services Board.
The proposal would see two police cruisers stationed in Meaford along with eight constables, which would ensure at least one officer on patrol in the municipality at all times.
Currently, the OPP provides roughly 11 constables plus a detachment sergeant to police the municipality. Should Meaford sign a contract with Owen Sound, the OPP would still be responsible for policing provincial highways in the municipality.
Mitchell told council that approximately 700 square feet of space would be required for the police station which he said would preferably be located in the downtown core of Meaford. That space requirement is far less than the space occupied by the OPP in a building owned by the municipality. Should Meaford opt to sign a contract with the Owen Sound Police Service, it is uncertain what the municipality would do with the building which currently houses the OPP.
Also included in the proposal is a civilian school liaison which would replace the current officer dedicated to Meaford schools provided by the OPP.
At the conclusion of the presentation, council gave direction to senior staff to analyze the proposal and to submit a report to council with recommendations at a future meeting of council.