AMO offers police recommendations

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AMO offers police recommendations

Postby Thomas » Thu Jun 25, 2015 3:44 am

Reacting to high OPP costs, municipalities make 34 suggestions

PARRY SOUND – Thirty-four recommendations for the future of policing were released earlier in April in a report completed by the Association of Municipalities Ontario.

The Association of Municipalities Ontario (AMO) formed a task force compiled of mayors and police board representatives from across the province to explore key questions about policing. Expert interviews were conducted along with a literary review of academic research, and representatives attended the 2015 Summit on the Economics of Policing and Community Safety in Ottawa where there were thorough discussions on specific issues.

The report states that among various symbols with which Canadians identify, one of those is the Ontario Provincial Police, and its history in northern and rural Ontario. The force has been subject to significant growth over the years, in terms of funding for more resources, units, specialized service, more benefits and higher salaries. Due to this growth, Ontarians are now paying the most for policing services over any other province or territory in Canada. The report analyzes two questions: “What does this public expenditure bring to our communities,” and, “what functions and expectations should we have of a police officer in 2015?”

Recommendations and themes

Of the thirty-four recommendations, which fall under four key themes – partnership, productivity, performance, and personnel – three priority recommendations were brought forward:

1. Make changes to the interest arbitration system;

2. Improve the quality of the existing governance and civilian oversight system; and,

3. Make legislation changes to permit the greater transfer of specific functions to civilians or other security providers where appropriate.

One recommendation in the report under the partnership theme was that governance responsibilities for all forces should include goals, priorities, and measurement of outputs and outcomes. The issue was highlighted locally at a June 1 regular meeting of Seguin Township council where consultant Michael Mitchell explained to council that it is difficult to compare current service of the OPP to what a municipal force would offer. This is due to the fact that the OPP does not share a lot of information, including staffing hours, the number of hours of service that a municipality receives, minimum staff and response times. The report cites a study conducted by Stephen Goudge and others last year which notes that data quality and availability are limited in Canada in regards to police organizations.

To address this issue, the AMO report provides a recommendation under the performance theme, to adopt modernized output and outcome metrics to measure police performance across the province.

An underlying recommendation throughout the entirety of the report was providing greater support for addressing mental health issues at the community level.

History

The report also outlined some of the history of the OPP, its governing legislation, as well as historic crime rates. The report states that historically, Canada has become accustomed to addressing higher crime levels by increasing resources to fight crime; however, a glass ceiling has been reached, as further investments are simply not sustainable. The annual Crime Severity Index outlines that Ontario scores the lowest of any province or territory with a decrease of 34 per cent in crime and a 27 per cent decrease in violent crimes since 2003.

Furthermore, the report states that the Police Services Act, the provincial act which outlines the conduct of police officers in the province of Ontario, along with accompanying regulations, have not been reviewed in any substantive manner since implementation in 1990.

Municipal policing force

The report outlines an important fact which was made light of at the 2015 Summit on the Economics of Policing and Community Safety in Ottawa earlier this March, where Calgary chief Rick Hanson said that you cannot transport policing from one community to the next – it must meet local needs. A fact that is not lost on Seguin council as they have discussed the viability of a municipal police force and what the township, and its municipal neighbours, would require of a force.

Decline in confidence

Despite the increasing of costs for policing services, pubic confidence in the service is on the steady decline, according to the AMO report. A Statistics Canada Survey found declines in six measures of confidence, specifically in responses to being approachable and easy to talk to, treating people fairly, and promptly responding to calls.

The policing modernization report outlined that another Canadian poll found that there are several decreases in confidence for a variety of professions, with the highest of them being the trust in police officers which saw a 16 per cent decrease from 2003 to 2011.

Another deficiency outlined in the report was that of officer discipline and suspension of pay. Some officers were provided compensation while undergoing various convictions of their own. Examples were provided in the report, including a Toronto officer who collected five years of salary despite a conviction for murdering his girlfriend, and a Windsor officer who was paid a total of $372,991 over a four-year period while she underwent charges of deceit and discreditable conduct for smuggling alcohol – of which she was found guilty.

According to the report, Ontario’s “Big 12,” which includes police services in Durham, Halton, Hamilton, London, Niagara, Ottawa, Peel, Sudbury, Toronto, Waterloo, Windsor, and York, police services boards report that between 2005 and 2009 they spent $16.9 million on payroll for suspended officers. This figure does not include the OPP.

The report is available online at: https://www.amo.on.ca/AMO-PDFs/Reports/ ... 04-27.aspx

Starting point

The report concludes noting that it is not a report to outline the economic deficiencies of the current police force, but rather, to act as a recommendation for what the future of policing may look like.

AMO president and mayor of the Town of Tecumseh, Gary McNamara, spoke of the report at the 2015 Ontario Small Urban Municipalities (OSUM) conference in Belleville earlier last month, saying it outlines the various problems that Ontarians are facing and it is now time to starting talking about what solutions may look like.

“It is a foundation for the next stage of the conversation we need to have, as elected officials of one order of government to the next,” said McNamara. “It is a conversation to have with the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, police officers, and their associations. It is a conversation for Ontarians.”

McNamara said that the recommendations outlined in the report are not “set in stone” but serve as a “starting point.”

http://www.parrysound.com/news-story/56 ... endations/
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