Letter to the Editor: The Cost of Policing

Published on January 26, 2017
OPP Emblem.

Editor Full disclosure, I am a retired member of the OPP. I have not been coached by anyone to submit this letter. To the Editor Once again we watch helplessly as our City Council wrestles with our 2017 budget. This city is so desperate to save money that anything and everything is on the table, and rightly so.

Council cuts a few thousand here and there, but can’t seem to address the really big budget items. The process begs one to look at the property tax information pamphlet taxpayers receive showing where our tax dollars go.

On that list is Cornwall Fire Services, an easy and frequent target for some councilors. But everybody ignores the elephant in the room. By far the top of the spending list is our police service’s $18 million budget, more than double the Fire Service... But what can we do? We have as much control over this as we do the 20 plus police staff who made the $100,000 sunshine list. Or do we? Occasionally there are whispers of the OPP providing this service, a service most of us will never directly use.

Should our Council consider this? How does this happen? What will it cost? Fortunately through the wonders of the internet anyone can research the cost, benefits and simple processes involved. But there are other things to consider, like how it would affect our current police staff? How would they feel to become part of a world class police service with all the opportunity for diversification, advancement, training and the latest in police technologies? What about the perceived notion of local control?

Council often complains they have no control as everything is up to the police services board. I wonder if a contracted OPP would give Council a much bigger ear than they have now? The OPP currently provide policing to a population of 2.3 million, including 324 Ontario municipalities, including the surrounding municipality of SD&G. Small police forces have been amalgamating with the OPP for years. This is not a new trend. They are the second largest police service in Ontario and they provide contracted Cities access to every specialized police support function that’s out there. The potential cost savings are simple logistics, buy 10 police cars or 1000, 60 police uniforms or 500.

These are just some simple comparisons, but then consider the cost of everything being purchased is spread out across more and more Ontario properties. Salary cost is no issue as all Ontario police officers make within a few hundred dollars of each other. No doubt some people reading will be reaching for the phone to demonize the mere thought of this. It’s called self-preservation. They may even suggest an expansion of our service to take over SD&G. That’s nonsense and it shows desperation. So why do we continue to miss out on this opportunity? I want this brought up for discussion at City Hall to see who speaks against it and what pea brained excuse they use. All taxpayers should be demanding Council ask for a costing. After all, it's free.

 

Brad D Eamer,
Cornwall, Ontario