With the OPP’s moratorium on quoting for policing takeovers finally lifted after reviewing the glaring inequities in their pricing models to communities across the Province, Midland Council is set to resume their request to seek costs from the OPP to take over policing in Midland.
We can only wonder if Council will take the advice of others who have explored this option and found no real savings. The fact that Penetanguishene opted to disband their police service in favour of the OPP, and seems to be a vocal supporter of their decision is no real surprise, and not worth much consideration.
May we remind everyone that only five years ago, after asking for a quote from the Town of Midland and the Midland Police Service for a new joint police service to combat the out-of-control OPP costs, Penetanguishene’s Mayor Marshall, “fudged” – or in essence “altered” the Midland Police quote numbers so that it would be higher than was submitted to him, and helped it come in closer to the OPP quote… then called a vote on it defeating the prospect of a joint police service in favour of the OPP. This actually happened. Welcome to small town Municipal politics.
The whole process was easily characterized as half-hearted and insincere topped off by dishonourable. But, that is now the past and no costs were incurred by Midland other than the year of planning and budgeting to create the quote for Penetanguishene.
You can read all about this largely forgotten “incident” here: http://police.midland.on.ca/news/midland-police-bid-altered-after-meeting-local-news-coverage
Enough time has past that it might be worth Midland exploring this merger again if it could mean savings for both Midland and Penetanguishene residents, now that shared services are a reality and both Councils are eager to reduce duplication and expenses in our communities. We still have the same mayors and they seem to be playing ball with each other again, so the timing may be perfect to get this back on the table for a second look.
Many other municipalities have found that the change to OPP is not worth the costs of giving up the autonomy and controls of owning and operating your own Police service (read the article), and since Midland has been helping Penetanguishene find savings with joint Fire, Planning / Inspection and now Transportation, it would be wise if our Council revisit this option again.
Why would Council exclude both real and potential savings in a joint policing service when they have pushed for and adopted joint service delivery in so many other areas?
It is time to look at this as an option again in tandem to the OPP costing process if there is to be fair, equitable and real comparison of service delivery versus tax dollars in our communities.
Evidence of the “illusion of savings” is found in thorough reviews and comparisons already done in communities like Sarnia, North Bay, West Nippising, South Simcoe (Innisfil / Bradford)…
“There’s a bit of a move across the province to do comparisons to see if they can receive policing any cheaper, but the bottom line with us is that after they looked at the costs, they decided ‘No, we’ll stay with the municipal police service’. It’s 10 million up front to switch over.”
Their chief reports “You give up a lot of local control. I answer to a police services board, and my budgets need council approval, the board is hands on. There is a lot of municipal control. It’s the same in any municipality.”
“It was very divisive. It went on for three or four years but a group on council wanted to pursue it. It was not good for the service and it was not good for the community. It had an impact between the city force and the OPP no matter how we tried not to have that happen. It calls into question the value of the policing. The reality is there is not one large city in Ontario, besides Orillia (OPP headquarters) where the OPP police. They are not urban police. That’s not what they do.”
Will council learn from others and the past? Are they really entering into this venture in good faith, prepared to concede if no savings present themselves and/or the service delivery trade offs are not good the for the community?
While we fully support helping our neighbours in Penetanguishene to save money by sharing services with them, maybe it is time for them to help Midland in return and explore, in good faith, joint policing and the savings that could be realized in both communities by combining policing as well as transit, planning, fire, works/roads, transportation etc.
This is not about OPP’s quality, commitment to policing or their fine membership nor about individual members of the policing profession – all police services have drama, troublesome staff and HR issues to deal with. Nor is it about who is “better”. It is about choosing the best option for our communities, sustainable and affordable policing (proactive and reactive) that meets all our needs and allows us the increased control and oversight that is enjoyed by local policing and police service boards.
We hope to see this option tabled by Council in tandem to their renewed request to the OPP to provide a costing to Midland. To ignore joint policing would only serve to strengthen the widely held notion that Council is committed to discarding their police service at all costs – and there will be significant costs. Read the supporting documents and links here and draw your own conclusions. If keeping local policing is important to you, you should be voicing your concern to Council and talking to your councillors asking them if they plan on revisiting joint policing as they done with other shared services now in place.
Midland Mirror has covered much of the debate thus far but seemingly not the “bid altering” death of the last attempt to combine policing and save. That coverage seemed to be exclusively with The Midland Free Press which is no longer in business. It seems that the Midland Police have an article on their website where they quoted the article’s text by a local reporter – a lucky find or there would be no written evidence of this past fiasco. You can read the archives from Midland Mirror here and read the Free Press article at http://police.midland.on.ca/news/midland-police-bid-altered-after-meeting-local-news-coverage
There are more resources we have found online locally at PolicingTruths.com
We suspect it would not take long for the Midland Police to revise their numbers for joint policing now that dispatchers are gone and outsourced and wonder if there is any political will to look at something other than OPP. Maybe one of the many Midland Councillors who monitor this group will start asking some questions.