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Ontario Civilian Police Commission approves the disbandment of OPS

May 29, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Baker

Following a months-long review, the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OPCP) has approved the Town’s application to disband the Orangeville Police Service (OPS). 

Reports emerged on Monday (May 25) that the provincial body had signed off on the disbandment, a move that, officially now, calls time on OPS’ 156-year stint of providing policing services in Orangeville. The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is expected to take over policing the community on Oct. 1. 

The OCPC decision, dated May 22, states that under the proposal, “adequate and effective police services will be maintained for the residents of Orangeville by the transition to the OPP.”

Orangeville Mayor Sandy Brown, who first tabled a motion that local council look into transitioning its policing services to OPP back in December 2018, said this was good news for the Town as it attempts to push through with the switch in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“This completes an important step in the transition to OPP and future cost savings for the Town,” said Orangeville Mayor Sandy Brown. “From my understanding, the OPP has been gathering data, applications and resumed from (existing Orangeville) police officers who want to transition to OPP. I believe 33 of 42 OPS officers have applied. Now that this approval has been given, OPP can start making offers to the officers.”

It is expected that all officers who receive offers from OPP will begin a four-week training course at the provincial force’s headwaters in Orillia in early October. During that period, other out-of-town members of the OPP will police Orangeville. The Town is hoping that officer training will be complete by Oct. 30. 

“It’s called experienced officer training. It’s just how the OPP does things,” Mayor Brown said. “There will likely be some different ways of communicating, and other rules and regulations OPP has that our OPS officers will have to learn.”

It has now been five months since the majority of Orangeville Council, in a 6 to 1 vote, decided to disband OPS in favour of adopting a policing model run by the OPP. It has been estimated the Town will save as much as $58 million by 2036 by transitioning to the provincial force. A significant part of those projected savings, Mayor Brown told the Citizen on Monday, come as a result of local dispatch services being moved to OPP headquarters. 

Engineers have been busy working away on the design-phase for proposed upgrades to the existing Orangeville police station, located on C-Line. During their initial presentation to the Town back in early 2019, OPP staff indicated the facility would require approximately $1.2 million in renovations to bring it up to the force’s required standards. In total, the Town is on the hook for approximately $7.5 million in one-time transitional costs this year, covering the renovations, severance to OPS staff and the purchase of new equipment and vehicles for the OPP. 

It is likely that the bulk of those costs will be covered by municipal reserves. As stated in the Town’s 2020 budget document, the municipality currently had close to $47 million in total reserve funds at the beginning of the year. Approximately $16.1 million has been set aside in the discretionary pool, meaning that money can be spent on projects as directed by Council. A further $17.8 million sits in the municipality’s obligatory reserves, meaning money intended for specific projects or purposes, and $12.9 million in the water/wastewater reserves, for water and wastewater related projects. It is unclear, at present, what impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on municipal reserves. 

In a previous report to Council in November, Orangeville CAO Ed Brennan noted any money taken from municipal reserves would be replenished over a five-year period. A consultant hired by the Town to take a deep dive into the financials of both OPS and OPP predicted the municipality would, by 2024, save an average of $4.66 million annually by transitioning to the provincial force. 

Mayor Brown expects the Town will be in a position to issue a Request For Proposal (RFP), which will give construction companies an opportunity to bid on the contract to complete work at the police station, sometime within the next two weeks. 

“COVID-19 has not impacted our deadlines regarding this transition,” Mayor Brown said. “We expect to complete the process by Oct. 1.”



         

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