A Few Questions About Policing … for You

The Town of Innisfil regularly asks for public comment on current issues. Lately it’s the Police Services Review Committee that is looking for your thoughts (Police Services Survey) on what types or levels of police services you think are necessary, or essential, how satisfied you are with the current police services and, if not, where you think enhancements can be made. The question is being asked because, as I understand it, the option of contracting policing to the OPP may provide a different mix or level of police service that is not directly comparable to what is provided locally now. As Innisfil and Bradford explore the costs and potential savings of shifting police service to the OPP, the Committee wants to know what you think.

Policing seems to be one of those essential things that is given little thought by the public until it’s needed. Traffic emergency response comes mostly to my mind when I think of the police. But there are also things like the marine patrols, an officer in the schools, and RIDE program as well as criminal investigation and crime prevention. I’m not sure how our policing costs compare to other similar jurisdictions, or how costs compare to levels of crime in this community. The policing survey asks how much of a problem you think specific offences are in your community, such as drug abuse, burglary or fraud etc. (The biggest ‘crime wave’ lately seems to be from the attention-craving, self-absorbed vandals that are defacing public spaces around Innisfil Beach Road – a situation that might be better solved by parents, rather than police.)

My personal instinct is that a locally run police service is preferable as long as costs are reasonable. The biggest expense by far in the police budget is salaries and benefits. This is a situation faced by every police force in the province. My guess is that any savings that may be offered by the OPP would gradually evaporate.

Policing has become a budget concern because the cost has risen steadily in the last 10 years. Innisfil’s new police chief has made a credible effort to draft a budget with notable reductions. The opinions of local residents about the type of police service they want may be critical in influencing where police resources and dollars should be allocated in future years. Click on the survey link above or add a comment below if you’d like to contribute your views. The Police Services Review Committee must report to Council by Dec. 15.

Want to know more?

Small-town police forces in Ontario giving way to the OPP, Toronto Star, December 3, 2012

Switching to OPP could save millions, Innisfil Journal, November 22

Police budget set for spending decrease, Innisfil Scope, October 17

Milestone police budget, Innisfil Examiner, October 18

Rift Between Partners in Policing, Bradford Times, August 13