Windsor

Windsor police merging beyond Amherstburg 'should be coming', says chief

According to Windsor police chief Al Frederick, a takeover of policing services in LaSalle "should be coming" as a cost-effective way of ensuring the public's safety — but the town's mayor disagrees.

Frederick calls regional policing the 'best thing for public safety,' but LaSalle's mayor disagrees

Windsor police chief Al Frederick says he will step down from his position 'sometime between now and June.' (Tom Addison/CBC)

According to Windsor police chief Al Frederick, a takeover of policing services in LaSalle "should be coming" as a cost-effective way of ensuring the public's safety — but the town's mayor disagrees.

"I think that there needs to be political will. In this case with Amherstburg, it was political will that drove the process," said Frederick during his year-end interview with CBC Windsor News Live at 6 host Arms Bumanlag.

The Windsor Police Service will officially take over law enforcement in the Town of Amherstburg on Jan. 1, 2019, a move estimated to save Amherstburg more than half a million dollars annually and Windsor between $100,000 to $200,000 a year, according to Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens.

In terms of taking over policing services in surrounding communities like Tecumseh and Essex, Frederick said "anything's a possibility."

Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo and Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens shake hands after the OCPC (Ontario Civilian Police Commission) approved the move for Windsor police to begin contract policing in Amherstburg starting in 2019. (Jason Viau/CBC)

"We were late to the party at this end of the province. In the GTA and most geographic areas around the province, the idea of regional policing has been well-entrenched and has been successful for many years," said Frederick.

"It's the best thing for public safety. And financially, it's a much better model so I've been a strong advocate for regional or contract policing in some sense."

But in between Windsor and Amherstburg falls one municipality in particular — LaSalle. Frederick said seeing Windsor police take over services in the town is the "wise thing to do from a public safety perspective."

"The more we are interrelated and connected as police services, the safer our communities will be ... I think it's the smart thing to do from a financial perspective [as well]," said Frederick.

LaSalle mayor against regional policing

"They can regionalize it, but not include LaSalle," said town mayor Marc Bondy.

He said residents in the town have made it clear to him they want LaSalle to maintain its own police force because "when you call them, they're there."

"They just feel comfortable with the level of service. Most of the officers live in the town. They coach. They volunteer their time in the town."

LaSalle Mayor Marc Bondy says he's always been in favour of maintaining a local police force in the town, which sits directly between Windsor and Amherstburg (Meg Roberts/CBC)

One example he points to is a young girl who was discovered running down Malden Road after missing her bus.

"Police got a call and within minutes, they picked her up and drove her to her home. That happened within minutes," said Bondy.

In response to Frederick's claim that regional policing is cost-effective for all communities involved, Bondy added "it's not always about money."

"It comes down to people's choices ... I've always said I wanted local policing even before I entered politics eight years ago. That's what I've heard loud and clear from everyone."

with files from Arms Bumanlag

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