Leamington seeks greater accountability from next police service provider

Leamington town council has agreed upon its requirements of the municipality’s next policing provider. “Quite honestly, if the OPP would look at this, they could find a new service model,” said Mayor Hilda MacDonald. “This covers the areas that we lack.”

Leamington, Ontario. June 10, 2020. OPP Leamington cruisers are parked at the headquarters on Clark Street West Wednesday.

The next provider of policing for the Leamington must have greater public accountability than the current provider — Ontario Provincial Police.

At a meeting on Tuesday, Leamington council approved the proposal requirements in the municipality’s request for proposals on police service delivery.

“The three main criteria for decision-making are the level of service, the cost, and — the one that gets lost a lot of times — local accountability,” said Mike Mitchell of MPM Consulting, who was retained by council to draft the RFP.

The large majority of municipal council agreed.

Coun. Tim Wilkinson said there should be emphasis on accountability: “Making sure that the police, in the future, are willing to work with this council.”

“They need to be very open-minded and listen to the pulse of the public here.”

In June, after about a year of discussion, Leamington council voted to terminate the municipality’s contract with Ontario Provincial Police — citing lack of communication and disclosure from OPP, as well as dissatisfaction with the level of service.

Leamington will officially stop being the jurisdiction of OPP on June 10, 2021.

OPP have been policing Leamington since 2010, when the town gave up its municipal police service and entered into an agreement with provincial police.

Ruth Orton, the municipality’s director of legal and legislative services, advised council that the RFP calls for specific information from the proponent — from describing strategies to maximize police visibility, to outlining all specialized police services, such as criminal investigation and drug enforcement capabilities.

Other information demanded by the RFP includes “minimum uniform staffing levels,” Orton said.

“A list of staff that would be specifically assigned to work in the municipality, including an organization chart, positions by rank, shift schedules, use of auxiliary police, description of the supervisory structure, and use of paid duty officers.”

Leamington Mayor Hilda MacDonald said she’s pleased that many details in the RFP are unique to the municipality.

“This is not just a cookie-cutter RFP,” MacDonald said. “I see things here that are specific to Leamington.”

“I look at funeral escorts. I look at regular patrol strategies, particularly in rural areas. I look at the referrals to tow truck operators … Those things are very important. That’s part of the level of service.”

Badge of the Leamington police department, circa 2010.

“Quite honestly, if the OPP would look at this, they could find a new service model. I hope they do … because to me, this covers the areas that we lack — the areas that we have had issue with, over and over.”

Mitchell said he reviewed all the community input on the issue in drafting the RFP. “I wanted to be as comprehensive as possible.”

An entire section of the RFP is devoted to local oversight. Orton said proponents must “detail all the accountability and reporting mechanisms to be implemented.”

The service provider must have an assigned liaison with council whose rank and role is clearly described.

The service provider must also explain what can be expected from its reports to council: “How they are formatted, the level of detail, and the frequency,” Orton said.

Coun. John Jacobs was the only council member who voted against approving the RFP.

Source: https://windsorstar.com/news/local-news/town-of-leamington-seeks-greater-accountability-from-next-police-service-provider