Amherstburg votes to replace local force with Windsor Police Service

After numerous public meetings, Amherstburg council decided use Windsor's police service starting in 2019.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo approved the change after a split vote by council

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo broke the tied vote to decide whether Windsor Police Services will be used in the town come 2019. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

Amherstburg Town Council  narrowly voted in favour of the Windsor Police Service taking over law enforcement duties in the town starting next year, during a meeting Monday night.

A split vote between councillors about who will provide policing the community for the next 20 years was ultimately decided by Mayor Aldo DiCarlo. Town officials say they will save about $600,000 a year by making the move, which still needs final approval from the Ontario Civilian Police Commission.

A discussion about approaching the issue from a business perspective received boos from members of the crowd who packed the council chamber and hallway to weigh in on the vote.

Amherstburg resident Jenn Ozyer was not happy with the result. She said if the decision was all about money, she would be happy to have a fundraiser to cover the costs of keeping the town's police service local.

"It's ridiculous to change it for that," she added. "I don't see the benefit. It's about money. It's not about making anything better."

The council chamber and hallway were filled with residents waiting to see who will provide future policing in Amherstburg. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

Some who attended the meeting said they felt as though their concerns had not been heard. Many wanted Amherstburg police to stay, including Trudy Dempsey who believes council had made their decision well before the meeting.

"I'm really upset about the decision that council made," she said. "I don't really think they took everything into consideration."

Amherstburg Police officers to stay

The discussion over policing in Amherstburg has been brewing for the past four years.

Councillor Leo Meloche said he feels for the people who aren't happy with the change, but added his decision was about what's best for the town.

"That brought me to a conclusion that for the long-term interest of Amherstburg this is really a good deal," he said.

Meloche added part of his decision was based on the information from federal and provincial municipal associations that said local policing would be unaffordable "down the road."

Councillor Leo Meloche said he feels for the people who didn't want a chance, but added his decision was about what's best for the town. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

"Technology has not been embraced to the extent it needs to be in police to try and create efficiencies and create lower costs," Meloche explained.

The majority of the Amherstburg Police Service will be staying on, according to Meloche. He said the Windsor police will take on everyone, except for the chief and the deputy chief.

The chief has been offered another position with Windsor Police. A senior staff sergeant will replace them.

"The existing staff will remain," said Meloche. "You won't see any changes in faces on the street."

Mayor's decision

DiCarlo said the town is at the second last stage of the process — the plan still needs to get provincial permission. 

"Without that, nothing is going to change," he added.

Council will hand over information about the change to the Ontario Civilian Police Commission as quickly as possible, then DiCarlo said it will be on their timeline.

The mayor still hoping that Jan. 1, 2019 will be the start date, but added that may be pushed back depending on when they receive approval from the province.

DiCarlo said he was aware of a few Amherstburg police officers in attendance and said he has spoken with their association many times and has addressed their concerns.

"I have spoken to a variety of officers on an individual basis and I think I addressed all their concerns at the very least," he said. "Hopefully we can move on."