Council made the right call

June 16, 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Tabitha Wells

While some have suggested that Orangeville residents should be angry and frustrated following the outcome of Council’s Monday evening meeting, in truth, many breathed a giant sigh of relief. Orangeville Police are here to stay, at least for the time being.

Deputy Mayor Warren Maycock’s passionate and well-thought-out speech provided an incredible summary of why the decision needed to be to stay with OPS, adding what many of us have said for a while – that choosing not to pursue OPP at this time does not close off the possibility of future discussions.

Certainly, if the Orangeville Police cannot continue to grow, improve, and expand in positive ways during the rest of Chief Wayne Kalinski’s term, and even thereafter, revisiting the OPP would be necessary.

As it stands right now, however, we have a chief who is working hard to restore the Orangeville Police to a respectable community asset. So far, he has been doing an incredible job and deserves incredible praise for that.

Now, the weight of figuring out a good budget, of looking at possibilities of where cuts can be made, falls back to the same people who should have been doing it in the first place – Orangeville Council.

There are plenty of opportunities for Council to create a tighter budget, even if it means certain services must be suspended for a couple years until the finances become available. It is because of this switching to OPP would not have saved taxpayers a dime anyways. One doesn’t teach someone with a spending problem how to start properly saving and utilizing their money by handing them millions of dollars to do it with. If that was the resolution, every financially downtrodden person who won the lottery would suddenly become the best money managers in the world.

If the police budget keeps our police local, keeps the control in the hands of our community instead of the Province’s, then I believe it is worth it.

That is not, of course, to say spending on our police budget should get out of control. Part of our council’s job is to work with the police service board to provide commentary and direction to the Chief. The Business Plan they put out two years ago is one step forward, and paves the way for more thoughtful, impactful discussion and decisions on police spending.

One more opportunity this council opens up is the chance to bring back the idea of a county-wide police force. We already know that Amaranth reached out to the Orangeville Police to ask for a costing last year, increasing the opportunity for revenue as well as possibly lessening the burden on Orangeville taxpayers.

I have great respect for the Ontario Provincial Police. I have met many great officers who work for the Dufferin detachment, officers who work hard to protect the people they serve. But OPP are already stretched across vast areas. One need only talk to residents of Grand Valley and other serviced areas in Dufferin County to hear story after story of slow response times and other issues.

A County-wide service would allow not just the municipal councils, but county council as well, to create a service that fits the needs of our specific community. They would retain the ability to help mould and shape this police force into something that works for each of our unique areas under strong leadership.

We have the resources here to keep the revenue local. We have intelligent, driven people who are capable of working with Chief Kalinksi to provide constructive critical analysis of practices, procedures, and spending to continue to push the Orangeville Police in a viable direction.

We also have people who are experienced and knowledgeable about the kinds of extensive training officers need to receive to best service the different needs in our community. Since Chief Kalinski took over, we have already seen some of these needs addressed, like proper training to deal with residents struggling with mental health issues.

Simply tossing the Orangeville Police aside because of the major issues they have had in the past will not fix things. As many others have pointed out, all the people speaking out about issues with specific officers would still have had to deal with those same officers under the OPP. Switching it out for a shiny new ‘force’ would not have fixed any of the issues.

There was a lot wrong with the Orangeville Police. Turning it around completely isn’t going to happen in six months, a year, or even two years. True, complete, total, grounded change is never something to happen overnight. It takes hard work and years of diligently tackling each issue to make positive advancements.

When someone has been in a car accident, it can take years to repair the physical damage to their body. They have to focus on working on each muscle, each area that was affected to strengthen and recover their usage. You wouldn’t pull that person out of physiotherapy because they’re not magically better in a week, a month, or even a year sometimes. You would work with them to help get them back on the right track.

This is the opportunity we have now. Rather than constantly telling the Chief ‘it doesn’t matter how much good you are doing, I’m coming after your job with the OPP the first chance I get’, it’s time certain members of council supported our Chief and worked with him to see those improvements.

If Chief Kalinski fails in his allotted time, then bring in the OPP. But until then, I implore you to work for the people by working to help strengthen our force instead of undermining it.

Take advantage of the opportunity allotted.

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