OPP tells Caledonia: We'll stay till pact ends

By Dana Brown
The Hamilton Spectator
(Apr 16, 2007)

OPP reassured Haldimand County residents they won't be going anywhere, at least until their current mandate ends in September 2008.

In a press release issued yesterday, OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino says officers are not withdrawing services from the county.

"Contrary to erroneous reports, the OPP will continue to have a strong presence in Haldimand County and Caledonia, as is our current mandate."

Noticeably absent was a mention of what will happen after the contract expires next year.

OPP Sergeant Dave Rektor said the release was a response to community concerns that the OPP would pull up stakes and leave immediately. The fears stem from an e-mail Fantino sent Haldimand Mayor Marie Trainer, in which he said he won't recommend renewing the OPP contract. Haldimand County council has said it was looking at not renewing the contract before receiving Fantino's e-mail.

Trainer said people in the community have been concerned about an immediate pullout after some OPP operational changes that came just days before Fantino's e-mail.

She said even if the OPP doesn't continue day-to-day policing in Haldimand after 2008, it's still responsible for the disputed former Douglas Creek Estates land. Council will discuss policing options at a meeting this morning. Trainer has suggested in the past that neighbouring regions, including Hamilton, could become involved.

Hamilton Councillor Bernie Morelli, chair of the police services board, said the board will answer any questions but repeated a police statement from Friday that looking after the city is the priority. In the release yesterday, Fantino also issued a stern warning. He called the actions of agitators, "deplorable, self-serving and dangerous," and promised they would be held accountable.