Island businessman says Stratford, P.E.I., needs more police
'We're talking about the safety of the community here'
Businessman Ray Murphy says the community of Stratford, P.E.I., is under-policed. Murphy, founder of Murphy's pharmacies and a resident of Stratford, recently wrote an opinion piece in the local paper and has contacted municipal governments to voice his concerns.
"We're talking about the safety of the community here," Murphy said. "It's very important that we have the proper protection."
Stratford currently has a contract with the RCMP with six officers assigned to the town. Town officials said those officers work a variety of shifts, but wouldn't all be on at the same time.
The town pays a little more than $1 million a year for the service as well as other associated costs.
Murphy said Stratford is a large area to cover and would benefit from having more officers on duty.
Murphy would like to see a capital region police force to serve Charlottetown, Stratford and Cornwall.
Police review possible
Stratford Mayor Steve Ogden said council plans to discuss the issue and possibly — with approval from council — commission a police review by outside consultants.
"We are looking at doing a policing review as part of the budget process," Ogden said.
Ogden said council wants to make evidence-based decisions and a review would help with that.
"We haven't done a policing review since 2003 in Stratford, it's been quite a long time," he said.
Ogden said Stratford's growing population is expected to be close to 15,000 in a few years and that growth is one reason why policing should be looked at.
However, Ogden said recent town surveys indicate residents are satisfied with the current police service.
Murphy said it's important for the communities of Stratford and Cornwall to have proper protection. He said he believes the two communities don't have the same level of policing as Charlottetown.
Murphy has businesses in all three communities and said he hopes the three municipalities can come together.
'About regional co-operation'
A new emergency services centre is expected to open in Stratford in January 2020. The mayor said that should help improve policing.
RCMP are currently travelling from the Maypoint detachment in Charlottetown, and prior to that used a small satellite building that wasn't open to the public.
"We'll be gaining two hours per officer per shift," Ogden said. "They'll be able to start their shifts here and end their shifts here."
Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown said the city meets on a quarterly basis with the communities of Stratford and Cornwall.
Brown said he likes the idea of the three municipalities working together, but that any changes to policing are just at the discussion level now.
"Police services come up as something to discuss now and into the future," Brown said. "This is all about regional co-operation."
A representative with Cornwall said the town is happy with its current RCMP contract, and changing it has not been discussed.