Doing the Research on an OPP Alternative

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Since taking office in November 2016, and before that during the 2014 campaign, I have been told that, at times, our current police service can feel inadequate. After sending the Ontario Provincial Police a number of questions aimed at determining the service Middlesex Centre is provided in exchange for $2+ million per year, and having several discussions with residents and business owners, I came to the conclusion that Middlesex Centre should evaluate our alternatives.

This Wednesday, I’m introducing a notice of motion that seeks to do the homework on evaluating alternatives to the OPP. This motion does not seek to replace the OPP right away, but rather to do the homework needed to figure out whether an alternative would be suitable.

Dr. Jeff King, an area resident and former police officer, has a delegation this Wednesday where he will present a proposal to be considered as part of the evaluation, should the motion pass. He is confident a more effective, more affordable alternative can be formed, and this is his chance for Council to ask him questions.

I encourage you to read the attached material, and provide any feedback you have. Thank you!

Q&A with OPP

1. How many staff (enforcement and administrative) total are located at the stations that primarily serve Middlesex Centre? I imagine this includes Strathroy, Lucan, and possibly Western Region HQ.

Middlesex County OPP has a complement of approximately 90 civilian and sworn members, working from four reporting locations; Strathroy, London, Lucan and Glencoe.

The OPP uses an integrated service delivery model at detachments whereby municipal policing services are provided to contract and non-contract municipalities, while provincial policing commitments are also being met, e.g. policing provincial highways, unorganized territories, etc. Municipalities benefit from the integrated service model as it provides the OPP with enhanced flexibility in meeting fluctuating and changing policing demands and at a lower cost than having one detachment service each municipality. This provides the OPP with enhanced flexibility to meet a variety of operational demands at a lower cost by leveraging economies of scale. Officers in detachments are not assigned specifically as a municipal or provincial officer. The OPP uses a time and activity electronic tracking system referred to as the Daily Activity Reporting (DAR) system, to capture staff data. The system tracks detailed records which include time, work locations, and activities.

2. How many officers are employed at the stations that primarily serve Middlesex Centre?

See answer to question #1

3. Are routine patrols conducted in Middlesex Centre, and with what frequency? (e.g. daily, every other day, once a week, etc.)

The OPP recognizes that random patrol and non-strategic enforcement are not efficient usages of our limited police resources. Focused Patrol is a detachment-based initiative aimed to identify community traffic and crime ‘hot spots’, enabling the organization to better reduce crime and victimization.

4. What areas do routine patrols typically cover? (e.g. Komoka, Ilderton, Ten Mile Rd, etc.)

Patrols cover all areas of a municipality, however enhanced patrols, specifically Focused Patrols are directed to a specific area/issue. See answer to question 5 for a further explanation.

5. What is the difference between a routine patrol and an enhanced patrol?

Focused Patrol is an efficiency-oriented initiative that demonstrates the OPP’s commitment to organizational accountability, crime/traffic reduction targets and aims for the reduction in future calls for service. Through data analysis or complaint driven, officers are directed by their supervisor/detachment commander a specific focus (type of crime/traffic), location (“hotspot”), time of day/night and duration. These seven criteria are required in order to meet the parameters of Focused Patrol:

a) Directed by supervisor/detachment commander
b) Specific focus provided
c) Specific location
d) Time
e) Duration of patrol
f) Number of members involved
g) Specific tracking and reporting requirements met

6. More specifically, what was enhanced about the patrol that recently apprehended two suspects in Kilworth whom are alleged to have been conducting thefts?

Middlesex Centre, and more specifically Kilworth and Komoka experienced significant increases in property crime in the month of August. In addition, officers were being informed that some thefts from vehicles were not being reported. Analysis indicated that the thefts were occurring between midnight and 04:00 hrs so a Focused Patrol was initiated to address this problem.

Twenty officers conducted 106 hours of foot and vehicle patrol from midnight to 4 am from Sept 1st until mid-November. October and November stats indicate that property crime has decreased by 22% from the same period in 2016.

At least 3 parties were identified and charged for property theft from this initiative.

7. How often do OPP officers set up “speed traps” in Middlesex Centre?

Traffic safety initiatives occur daily within Middlesex County, throughout all municipalities served by the OPP. Traffic safety initiatives are not strictly limited to Enforcement, rather Education and Engagement are also employed to make our roadways safe.

8. How successful, in terms of tickets and fines issued, are these “speed traps?”

Traffic enforcement is one of a number of methods used to change driver behaviour to make our roadways safe.

9. How many calls do the OPP respond to on a weekly, monthly, and annual basis in Middlesex Centre?

Over the three year period of 2014-2016 Middlesex Centre experienced an average of 1995 calls per year. Only slight variances in the numbers were observed from year to year and 2017 also remains fairly consistent.

To date (Nov 25) Middlesex Centre has had 1742 calls and if we predict the annual total based on the current year we can anticipate approximately 1937 calls which is a 2.9% decrease from the three year average.

  • Average monthly calls in 2017 were 161, while the 3 year average is slightly higher at 166.
  • Average weekly calls in 2017 were 37 while the 3 year average came to 38.

10. How many calls result in criminal charges being pressed against individuals?

Detailed information on current charge data is not available but I have included information which indicates charges laid per occurrence. The number of charges and number of charged parties is not detailed.

Number of Occurrences where charges were laid

Year – Criminal Code – Provincial Offences
2017 – 168 – 158
2016 – 176 – 182
2015 – 150 – 145

Recent Discussion with Councillor DeViet

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I live in Middlesex Centre’s Ward 4, represented by Councillor Aina DeViet. She and I have been discussing various issues lately, especially once the snow started to fly. Below is an email I sent to her following the PPM on the upcoming subdivision and a few phone calls; an attempt to put my thoughts into words instead of just discussing things on the fly. She recently responded regarding snow removal, which is also below.

Given the upcoming municipal election, I would really like to hear from other citizens in Ward 4 (Komoka and Kilworth) regarding the issues below so that we can try and find some common ground leading up to October. These are purely my thoughts and do not reflect those of the Kilworth Ratepayers Association, though I am a participant. I don’t have all the answers, but I do feel it’s important to ask questions.

December 6, 2013

Hi Aina,

Thank you for calling me today! And I’m sorry this email is coming so late. I’ll do my best to be brief, and also offer some potential ideas/solutions for the issues I’m raising.

Snow Removal
You and I discussed this at length. My issues here are twofold:

  1. The quality of snow removal being performed.
  2. The lack of sidewalks being plowed.

The level of snow removal performed it, frankly, atrocious. Several cm of snow is routinely left on the road, causing almost as much trouble to drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists alike as if the snow were never plowed at all. I’m attaching two photos I took November 29, which is several days after a plow last came through Kilworth. I think you’ll instantly see what I’m referring to.

I know you’re looking into raising the issue once more to at least find out what it would cost to have sidewalks plowed. That’s great! And on that note, I would recommend that staff bring that report back and divide each road into primary, secondary, and tertiary roads. The reason for that is that it would probably be much easier to get sidewalks on primary roads (e.g. Jefferies Rd) and secondary roads (e.g. Stephen Moore Dr, Westbrook Dr) plowed, rather than all of them.

An extra hour or two and the sidewalk plow/snowblower that was out here could have had some secondary roads plowed, which also carry a decent amount of traffic each day. Just a thought.

Police
I know we talked about this today, but I wanted to put my thoughts a bit more succinctly.

I was rather mystified when I spotted 4 police officers all, seemingly, inspecting the roof of a home on Stephen Moore Dr in late August (I think it was August). Based on their demeanour, the home belonged to one of the officers present. This was late, probably around 10:30pm. What else could they have been doing instead of socializing?

Just a few weeks ago I came across something similar on Baron Cr. I was walking my dog, going north on Earlscourt Terrace in the afternoon when I saw 3 or 4 police cruisers parked in the driveway and on the road, with multiple police officers milling about fraternizing. It didn’t appear that they were responding to a call, but merely socializing.

Which brings me to my point: Does the OPP have too many officers for this area? I’m sure they have a formula of some kind that says they don’t, but the results appear to suggest otherwise. When I see several employees of any kind, at any organization, simply milling about in the middle of the day, the first thought that comes to my mind is, “Too many employees. Need to optimize that.” I know emergency services should be looked at differently, but in light of the recent negotiations, I think it’s time the OPP take a hard look at their own internal procedures and staffing ratios given the demographics of Middlesex Centre (and surrounding areas they serve).

Roads
Our roads are, for lack of a better word, unsafe. Referencing this Ontario Road Safety report from 2006, and then the most recent from 2009, a cursory glance will show you that Middlesex County experiences a large number of collisions every year, in no small part thanks to a fairly large and increasing number of them occurring in Middlesex Centre. I think much of those, anecdotally, can be tracked to a few causes:

  • Lack of lighting on major roads like Gideon Dr, Glendon Dr, Vanneck Rd, Coldstream Rd, etc.
  • Speed
  • Weather

Two of those we have little direct control over, especially weather (unless we plow the roads better than we do now). I would not, however, propose putting up streetlights down our major artery roads due to the costs involved. I will make a different suggestion though: mid-road reflectors.

I’ve driven down several 400-series highways that have small reflectors dug into the road every 10 dashes (the painted lane dashes) or so. I find these are extremely helpful at helping drivers understand where they are relative to their lane (as they are embedded between lanes), and at alerting drivers to turns/bends coming up in the road. I don’t know how much they cost, but I have to imagine they are far more cost effective than erecting streetlights, especially given that the reflectors aren’t powered.

I’d also like to suggest staff look at lowering speed limits within the villages by 10km/h pretty much across the board. As I said on the phone earlier, I find no reason people should be driving more than 50km/h in Kilworth, Komoka, Ilderton, etc. And when we’re still experiencing an influx of city drivers, I think it’s important to help imbue that village-feel in every way we can.

I don’t have them off-hand now, but I have read the results of several studies that show a speed limit decrease helps improve safety, and does not cause a huge effect in travel times (especially when you consider drivers are mostly making their way to a major artery, with an 80km/h speed limit, anyway).

There is simply too much at stake with elderly people, young children, and some intersections with very poor sight lines to allow for people to think they can drive almost 70km/h down Jefferies Rd. More annual safety reports here.

I will continue to keep tabs on council meetings and public notices, and will continue to send you my thoughts on these matters when I feel I have something to add. I’ll also be putting this letter online so that others in the area will, hopefully, feel emboldened to express their opinions to their Councillors too.

Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you or hear from you again soon!

Response from Councillor DeViet.

January 4, 2014

Re snow removal – see agenda items for General Committee for the coming meeting on January 8th. The status report indicates the current contract will be put out to tender next summer and Council will have a full discussion on this once we have have all the information; however, given the number of kilometers currently plowed versus the total the cost is expected to double.

I will be asking what the overall impact on taxes will be given we will be looking at a figure that may run between $56-92K once we hear results of the RFQ.

All for now,
Aina

Aina DeViet
Councillor Ward 4 Komoka-Kilworth
Municipality of Middlesex Centre
Tel: 519-657-3093
E-mail: deviet@middlesexcentre.on.ca