Police Service Public Meeting

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This is an Update on a Public Information Session held on Tuesday evening, March 10th, concerning the recent decision to transfer the police dispatch function to the Owen Sound Police Service.

Several members of Midlandcommunity.ca attended this very important meeting on your behalf. Given there was no media present to report on the event, this update may be especially significant as your only source of information about the meeting.

BACKGROUND

In response to ongoing budgetary pressures, the Police Services Board (PSB) was requested by Midland Council to re-visit the 2015 budget and make recommendations on cost reductions in the police service. Several years ago when confronted with this same pressure to reduce costs, the Police Chief proposed outsourcing dispatch, a step that has become quite common for many small municipal police departments trying to achieve economies of scale. The previous PSB never saw fit to proceed with the proposal.

Midland’s new PSB in tandem with the Police Chief saw this proposal as a viable way to achieve significant long-term savings (approximately $250,000 annually) without compromising public safety. The plan will see Owen Sound handle Police dispatch for Midland later this year – a service they currently provide for seven other Police Forces.

The transitional process requires a public meeting as well as an Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC) hearing likely to occur within the next 60 days.

Some 40-45 people attended the information session. Likely half of the attendees were Police employees. Also attending were several current and past Councillors, with the balance of attendees representing the broader community.

PSB Vice-Chairman Stewart Strathearn chaired the meeting. Also in attendance to support the decision and answer questions about the transition were PSB member Mike Ross, Chief Mike Osborne, and the Owen Sound Police Chief. The purpose of the meeting was clearly stated upfront – to deal with the consequences and implementation of the decision and not the decision itself. While everyone remains saddened that outsourcing dispatch results in local job losses, the reality is that year over year costs for policing are simply not sustainable particularly in a small, “no growth” community.

It is important to re-state that both Chiefs assured all in attendance that public safety was not at risk and not a consequence of this decision.

The public is encouraged to express support, concerns or other views to the OCPC regarding this difficult, but in our view necessary, decision.

Please write or fax to: Ontario Civilian Police Commission Suite 605 250 Dundas Street West Toronto, ON M7A 2T3 Fax: 416-314-0198

Roy Ellis on behalf of midlandcommunity.ca

4 Comments on "Police Service Public Meeting"

  1. Robert Hopkins | March 15, 2015 at 11:52 am | Reply

    Although not mentioned in your notes above, I’m hopeful that “dispatching” also includes the emergency 911 service. Having had some exposure working for a vendor of emergency/dispatch systems, I can assure you that there are service level improvements and risk reductions in addition to economy of scale benefits of consolidating where possible. For example, I suspect Midland couldn’t afford features such as multi-language emergency call support or AVL (automatic vehicle locate), but these and other valuable aids are possible if you are dealing with a larger scale service.

  2. George A. Barber | March 15, 2015 at 4:51 pm | Reply

    For many years we have made calls for various service needs seamlessly while not knowing that the call centre is often 1/2 way around the world. The ordering of merchandise and services is also routinely carried out on the internet with an amazingly high degree of accuracy.
    This shift in mind set and with the co-operation of our police chief, our P.S.B., our council and a large proportion of our public at large. I have employed the adjective “our” because, in my opinion, for the first time there seems to be a sense of cohesion within Midland. I too regret the job losses that will result from this decision and am hopeful that the impact of these losses can be minimised.
    I fully support this initiative in terms of it’s fiscal responsibility.

  3. Midland Police has never done without due to their size. As a matter of fact they’ve been leaders in tech and often the pilot agency for tech now embraced around the Province and Country. AVL was never on the radar here due to the topographics of our town and patrol zone size. They have GPS in the cars with the modems used for the laptops but integrating it with dispatch was never a tactical priority and was never free. If that is to be implemented with Owen Sound it will still cost us to licence the software used in each cruiser. No significant savings there. Multilingual dispatch in our area consists of English and French. I am not aware of any commitment to have that available in the new contract either. To be fair though it really depended upon who was on duty here and likely the same there as no guaranteed service in both official languages was ever available 24/7. The point I am making is this is a move for purely financial reasons and will not net us any gains over the phone or in the air. Additionally the office goes dark nightly and a phone is used to call for help even when standing at our doorstep. It’s Council’s will and so it shall pass but don’t presume to be getting “more” bang for your buck by outsourcing.

  4. I am pleased that this is taking place. Economies of scale, superior technology & and a mid-sized Canadian based communityservice model makes sense. Owen Sound has a very strong telecommuncations network with high levels of redundancy to ensure reliability & availibility of services. I & my family support this decision.

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