No just an economic decision

February 16, 2017   ·   0 Comments

Dear Mayor Williams and Members of Council:

The upcoming decision to determine the direction of police servicing in Orangeville is multi-dimensional.   In the press and social media there has been a consistent voice suggesting that somehow changing police services will result in a degradation of services.    Mayor Williams, Councillor Campbell and Councillor Kidd have been vocal in their support of Orangeville Police Services – even suggesting that they would vote in favour of retaining Orangeville Police Service prior to receiving the costing from OPP.   This is very troubling for me as a voter.   I want decisions to be made based on factual information, not on anecdotal information or who is friends with whom.

As a long-time resident of this Town I have followed municipal politics and the calamity that has been the Orangeville Police Service over the last few years.    If I had been asked two years ago to pick between OPP and OPS,  I would have selected OPP even if the costing was the same.   Such was the negativity surrounding the OPS.    A person died in custody, the former chief lived in another city an hour away, internal strife, staff on extended leave, etc., etc.    

Chief Kalinski has steadied the ship.   He has been present at many community events.   However, just like politicking – kissing babies and cutting ribbons doesn’t mean everything is well run or thought out.   

So, how do you cut through the “anecdotal” stories floating around?   How do we determine “performance” of our police service?    One way is through cost and revenue.   Another is through Statistics Canada’s crime statistics.   

Attached is Orangeville Police Service Budget for 2016 and proposed from 2017-2021.

(1)   Consumer Price Index from 1997 – 2016 rose an average of 1.85%. 

(2). Proposed budget increase for 2017 is 3.22% or a rate 74% higher than the average Consumer Price Index increase over the past 20 years.   The proposed increases for 2018 and 2019 are 4.6% and 3.01% which are 148% and 62.7% higher than the Consumer Price Index.    The Consumer Price Index is what we as constituents have to live our lives by.   It’s curious how government seems to operate oblivious to this.   

The other part of the police budget is revenue.   For some reason the 2017 proposed Orangeville Police Service budget is showing an increase in revenue of $381,961 or 32%.    This is an incredible (and by that I mean possibly inaccurate) increase in revenue – curiously in the year when the Net Police Services number will be scrutinized and compared to the OPP estimate.    The bulk of this is from “Provincial Grants” – which under the OPP would also be available.   

This brings me to measurable success of the Orangeville Police Service.    Police organizations are required to submit their records to Statistics Canada so that comparisons can be made.   Please find attached Table 252-0085 (3) from Statistics Canada with information from:

Ontario as a whole;

Woodstock ON – a similarly sized municipality with its own police force;

Wellington County – a neighbouring community with both rural and urban centres policed by OPP;

Collingwood ON – policed by the OPP;

Orangeville ON – policed by its own police service;

Caledon ON – a neighbouring community with both rural and urban centres policed by OPP;

Orillia ON – a similarly sized municipality policed by the OPP;

If you review this chart you will see that over the past 3 years:

In Ontario the Crime Severity Index has been relatively LEVEL, the Weighted Clearance Rate is LEVEL;

In Woodstock ON, the Crime Severity Index was UP dramatically in 2015 , the weighted clearance rate is DOWN;

In Wellington County the Crime Severity Index is LEVEL, the Weighted Clearance Rate is UP;

In Collingwood ON the Crime Severity Index is trending DOWN,  the Weighted Clearance rate is DOWN;

In Orangeville ON the Crime Severity Index is UP, the Weighted Clearance Rate is DOWN;   

In Caledon ON the Crime Severity Index is LEVEL, the Weighted Clearance Rate is UP.

What does this mean?   In comparison to the province as a whole, Orangeville’s Police Service is under-performing both in terms of crime rate and solving crimes. If we look at Woodstock and Orangeville who have their own police forces, in comparison to OPP served Orillia, Collingwood, Caledon and Wellington,  OPS and Woodstock Police Service are under-performing when it comes to crime rate and crime solving.   

Community Policing

OPP has a program called Ontario’s Mobilization and Engagement Model of Community Policing.   It appears from the attached chart (4) to be comprehensive and based on the empirical evidence collected by Statscan, is working.

Wellness of Officers

Recently Orangeville Police Officer James Giovanetti was given an award for bringing attention the mental health of police officers.   Police officers are put in very difficult and traumatic circumstances – from time to time they need counselling and other assistance.    For many years the OPP has had a comprehensive Wellness Program for its staff.   The resources that the OPP bring are much more complete when it comes to serving the needs of its officers – much more than Orangeville Police Service can afford to supply.   Please see attached Wellness information from OPP (5)

Chicken Little

The Mayor and some of his social media friends have been suggesting that under the OPP,  the level of service will “degradate”.    Hopefully you will see that the facts do not bear this out.   In fact the OPP has the resources to better serve Orangeville, and does so in more than 300 municipalities in Ontario.    Some have suggested that they “bid low” – in order to jack the rate up later.    There is no proof of this and to suggest that there is some ulterior motive by the OPP is, to coin a phrase, “alternative facts”.   

“KOPS” – Keep Orangeville Police Service Campaign

Police officers by nature of their training, position and uniform are intimidating.   I don’t believe that Orangeville Police Officers should be asking (telling) shopkeepers if they can put one of their signs in their window.   This is wrong and should not be supported by the Police Chief, the Police Services Board or Town Council.   Apparently some members of the Orangeville Police Association have decided to do this along with a Facebook page run by one of the friends of the Mayor. 

All of this information is public information.   I have gathered and compiled it so you have some facts with which to make your decision.     I hope that as elected officials in our Town that you focus on the facts when you make this very important decision.   The decision is not just an economic decision – but what service will provide better policing to the residents of our Town.    If one service is less expensive and has the capacity and proven track record to provide such service – then the decision will be an easy one to make.

Sandy Brown

Orangeville, ON

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