A’BURG SIGNS CITY COP DEAL
Mayor says it’s ‘first step’ toward regional police
Just before signing the contract that will see the Windsor Police Service take over Amherstburg policing for the next two decades, Mayor Drew Dilkens said Friday that Essex County was taking its “first step” toward regional policing.
He went as far as saying it would be “irresponsible” for politicians in other municipalities to refuse to at least consider it.
“This to my mind has the potential to be the first step towards a regional policing model in Essex County, something that would ultimately benefit all the residents of Essex County,” said Dilkens. “Windsor police will do a wonderful job providing great police services to the town of Amherstburg. We’ll start there. But I hope other towns are looking at what we’re doing here, and looking at ways they can provide the same great service to their residents and save money for everyone in their town and across our entire county.” After about a year of consultations between the two municipalities, Dilkens and Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo signed the contract Friday at Windsor police headquarters. Amherstburg town council narrowly voted in February to pursue a contract with Windsor police, a move that prompted fierce public opposition.
The Ontario Civilian Police Commission approved the plan in July. Since then, more than a dozen committees have been working behind the scenes to get it done.
The contract will take effect at midnight on Jan. 1. It is a 20-year deal with terms up for review every five years. Either side can pull out of the agreement with 18 months notice.
DiCarlo and Dilkens have both said Amherstburg will save about $570,000 a year.
When Amherstburg sent out a request for proposals, the only response came from Windsor.
“We believe they responded with something that would maintain the services that we enjoy in the town of Amherstburg, and we also believe it will improve it with what they have to offer,” said DiCarlo. “We will have at least as good a service, and I believe better than we had before, with the city of Windsor policing. And we will also save money in the process.” Windsor Police Chief Al Frederick said the savings are great. But for him, public safety is the main issue.
He said Windsor’s resources and specialty units, including forensics teams, the tactical unit and bomb squad are all now available to Amherstburg.
He added that the police headquarters in Amherstburg will remain operational. All officers and personnel who want to stay working in the town will have that option.
“From a policing perspective, it’s all about public safety,” said Frederick. “There is no question that an integration approach to policing, when two police agencies come together in any model, there are benefits to public safety.”
He also said Windsor police will win over the critics who remain opposed to the plan. “How we build trust is one call at a time,” said Frederick. “Every interaction with the Amherstburg community, once Windsor takes over policing, we are going to deliver. That’s our goal, that’s our objective. We’ve stated it in every one of our meetings that we will win the confidence of Amherstburg through our professionalism.” DiCarlo said many opponents forget that Amherstburg and other municipalities already share other services across the region. “Policing was one of the few we didn’t,” he said. “I think this will show that this is just an extension of that, that there are savings to be found, improved services to be found, and both municipalities will do better because of the partnership we developed.” Dilkens said he hoped the partnership would prove the benefits of regional policing to other towns, and “open some doors” to conversations when their contracts come up. Most municipalities in the province have contracts with the OPP to provide policing. LaSalle, positioned between Amherstburg and Windsor, has its own police service.
“If you were an elected official, why wouldn’t you want to consider — at least consider — the opportunity to provide the exact same service and save, in this case, $570,000 a year?” Dilkens asked. “I think it would be irresponsible for politicians.
Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens, left, Windsor Police Chief Al Frederick and Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo announce a deal for the Windsor Police Service to take over policing in Amherstburg Jan. 1.