Mayor says it’s ‘first step’ to­ward re­gional po­lice

Windsor Star - - NEWS - TREVOR WIL­HELM twil­helm@post­media.com

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.


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