Wednesday, October 22, 2008

You Deserve Better from Police Brass

Did you hear about how Regional Council turned away the contingent of Niagara Regional Police senior staff and Board members who appeared at Regional headquarters intending to speak to Council about their new facilities?

You see, the Chief of Police, the Chair of the NRPS Board’s Facilities Committee, the Chief Administrative Officer, and several others came to the Regional Council Chambers last Thursday. They were there because they wanted to make a presentation about the NRPS Board’s facilities recommendations.

It was to be dealt with behind closed doors for two main reasons: first, because the Police requested it be confidential under the Police Act; and, second, because was to deal with the "proposed acquisition or disposition of land" by the Region. (These are some of the legal reasons for a Council to go "in camera" – or behind closed doors: to uphold confidentially requirements under another act; and to stop land speculation if specific properties are to be discussed.)

But, instead of hearing Police representatives and debating the recommendations in their letter, I made the motion to refer the entire matter to a special committee. My motion passed quickly.

Why, you ask?

You may recall that in my June 4th column I wrote about the joint committee and the "soap opera" that was developing because of its formation.

You see, the Police Board contended that they alone must safeguard and oversee all elements of "policing standards" throughout the Region.

But, that’s not all there is to constructing new and better digs for our Police Service. Regional Council must ensure that any facilities are both financially sustainable and properly planned and located.

Well, as you may know, since the spring the Region and the Police have taken great pains resolve the dispute and to establish a special joint committee. Called the Police Long Term Accommodation Committee, this working group is charged with overseeing all processes related to Police facilities including financing, planning, design and construction.

Then, last week, the Police Board tried to come directly to Regional Council and bypass the joint committee process.

So, Regional Council sent the Police brass and board members to the joint committee where they should have gone in the first place.

Quite frankly, I believe you and all Niagara’s citizens deserve better from the Police Services Top Brass.

As I wrote in my June 4 column, "Sadly, this dispute keeps us from the real task at hand – service and protection."