Here's what needs to happen before Windsor police take over service in Amherstburg
Move will save town $14M over 20 years, says mayor
Permission from a provincial agency, approval of a legal contract and technological updates are a few of the changes that need to be made before the Windsor Police Service can take over law enforcement in Amherstburg.
Amberstburg's council has voted in favour of the WPS replacing their own local force for the next 20 years starting on Jan. 1, 2019.
But before that happens a lot of work needs to be done, according to WPS chief Al Frederick. Here's a look at what types of approval are still required and what service will look like once Windsor takes over.
Amberstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo described casting the tie-breaking vote to replace the local force as the "most difficult decision" he's had to make.
Listen to Aldo DiCarlo explain why he voted for Windsor police to provide service to his town.
He maintains the vote reflects the will of a large group of citizens who "quietly contacted" their councillors to request the change and a good business decision for the town.
"Over the 20-year term of the contract at least $14 million and that's something I think the town can really use in other areas like infrastructure," he said.
So what needs to happen before Windsor police begin patrolling in Amherstburg?
Frederick said three things need to happen before Windsor police officially take over duties in the town.
- The proposal still needs final approval from the Ontario Civilian Police Commission — an independent agency charged with ensuring adequate and effective policing
- A legal contract needs to be drawn up
- Windsor police operations need to be transitioned to Amherstburg
"It's a lot of work but it's good work and fun work," said Frederick. "It's a lot of committee work and a lot of opportunities for people to work together."
Timeline not certain
The chief said it will probably take a "couple of months" for the commission and the contract to clear the change, so a specific timeline is not set.
In a statement sent to CBC News, a spokesperson for the commission said the process to disband the Amherstburg Police Service won't begin until an application is received.
"The OCPC thoroughly reviews all information and proceeds as quickly as possible to make a decision while considering the criteria as set out under ... the [Police Servies Act]," wrote Silvia Cheng in an email to CBC.
She added the commission will consider if a hearing is necessary after receiving the application. Until then, public input on the possible change should be made to the municipalities involved in the decision.
Amherstburg police officers have been offered similar salaries and benefits packages if they take positions at the new Windsor police branch, which will be based out of local force's current location on Sandwich Street South.
"We've devised our plan that Amherstburg will continue to operate almost like its own entity," said Frederick."So the same amount of officers, the same patrol zones, the same shift schedules, so really we're not disrupting a whole lot of operations."
Windsor offering 'enhanced service'
The chief said the service will, for the most part, be the same, but added Windsor police can offer enhanced service.
"They have the benefit of all of our specialty unites and expertise. That's really where the added benefit from community safety is."
He added WPS will also work to upgrade the technology used by the police in the town.
One way Windsor police will work to build a relationship with residents in Amherstburg is through community programs including adding an officer at General Amherst High School and setting up the Values, Influences and Peers program for youth in the town.
"We have to work each day to win the community's trust in order for us to be effective, so that won't change," said Frederick. "We're going to initiate those things that have worked here very well for us and on top of that, adopt some of the programs that Amherstburg has had under their bailiwick for the past couple of years."
One important aspect of the change, according to the chief, is that all police working in Amherstburg will be based in, and deployed from, the town.
"There will be no speeding vehicles through the Town of LaSalle from the Windsor Police Service."