This year we saw a change in how our police services got delivered. Both the Town of Midland and the Midland Police Services Board are still dealing with a few outstanding matters relating to the disbandment in February.
You will recall, a courageous council came to the conclusion that policing could be offered in a more effective and affordable manner through a contract with the OPP. Many thought there had to be a better way knowing the OPP detachment was policing all our neighbours and was also centrally located right here in Midland.
Folks attest to the fact that police leadership had lost touch with the community. There were reports that morale in the department was at an all-time low and reports of too few ‘boots on the ground’. A previous Police Services Board negotiated rich, ‘poison-pill’ severance clauses if OPP policing occurred; all solid reasons for reviewing current police services and requesting a competitive bid.
Around the same time, you might recall Orangeville also underwent a review of policing. They clearly made the wrong decision staying with local police services and leaving $4 Million in savings on the table- got to love politics ‘trumping’ a sound business decision.
On the subject of questionable financial commitments, the former Chief accumulated legal bills to the tune of $330,000 in 2017 against a budget of only $80,000, mostly for one disciplinary matter that started about four years prior. Fortunately the current Board voted to have these lawyers’ bills reviewed and has not paid them.
Whatever the result of the review, the prolonged disciplinary matter referred to above will end up costing Midland’s taxpayers in the high six figures.
On a positive note, with OPP policing Midland taxpayers will never again be saddled with the financial burden of employee management/mismanagement or too-rich employee contracts.
It has been reported that the former Chief has so far refused to provide records that are required to assess the validity of the $330,000 in legal charges accumulated in 2017. The MPS took it upon themselves to encrypt their servers during the transition, claiming they didn’t trust the Board or the Town to access the data. Hopefully records on some encrypted hard drives will soon become available to the Town and Board. Newly elected Ward 2 Councillor Bill Gordon indicates he has been interviewed by the OPP on the subject. Mr. Gordon was the Civilian member of the MPS who was in charge of Information Technology and his duties would include network and data safeguarding.
In the meantime while that gets resolved, as a result of Council’s decision on OPP, we will have a safer community with more officers on duty, welcome a culture of policing which values both the customer and its employees and we will enjoy $1 Million a year in long-term savings.
The right leadership with the right vision can take this ‘gift that keeps on giving’ and invest in services for our youth, our seniors while improving community safety.
This is how we see it at midlandcommunity.ca
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