FiveĀ  more years with the Ontario Provincial Police

by bill Jackson - The Regional

December 16, 2009

Citizens complained of local policing deficiencies prior to 2006 and before the Douglas Creek Estates occupation, according to Coun. Lorne Boyko.

"I don't want to go back to before," he said.

The Dunnville representative voted against reducing the Haldimand OPP's staff complement by 2.22 full-time constables on Monday when council approved a new five-year contract with the provincial force that is expected to cost approximately $8 million this year. That's $800,000 more compared to last year, but the complement of full-time constables will be reduced from 50.1 to 47.88.

Since 2006 the county has benefited from an increased number of police officers paid for by the province to deal with issues involving First Nations. Local policing apart from such matters has arguably benefited as a result.

However, retaining operational equivalence of bodies at the Haldimand detachment under the new contract would cost the county $300,000 more, according to a report submitted by the county's Corporate Services GM, Karen General.

The new contract includes a reduction of 3,257 hours in the guaranteed minimum service level which equates to less than nine hours per day. But that can be offset at no additional cost if uniformed staff are available to work more than the guaranteed minimum of 1467 hours per year.

"The County was unsuccessful in having the contract language reflect a costing based on positions, rather than hours," her report explains. "As a result, there is no financial credit given for any vacant positions as long as the guaranteed minimum level of service is provided annually."

Coun. Craig Grice also voted against the reduction in officers.

The contract is provincially mandated and heavily favours the OPP, he said.

General admitted that the contract is subject to interpretation given many complex issues. However, the county has limited options for policing, she said.

"It ends up being this is the best you can get," Grice said. "That ends up being the answer."

County staff investigated other options for policing at the request of council and put a lot of work into it, noted Coun. Buck Sloat.

"I can tell you, this is as good as it gets from a policing perspective."