Police Board’s Town Hall Meeting

Cobourg’s Police Board invited the media and public to their meeting on 25 October which was held in their conference room on the second floor of the Venture 13 building.  They presented details of their Business Plan and the results of the recent Arbitration of their collective Agreement with unionized employees.  Multiple speakers presented highlights but emphasized that they are delivering on what they promised and that they are mandated by the Police Act to be engaged with the community and focus on crime prevention as well as enforcement.  To do this cost effectively, the Cobourg Police Service are using Auxiliary and Special Constables to do work that does not require sworn officers.  As a result, although there has been more community engagement, the 2018 budget ($6.1 million) was no higher than the 2017 budget.

Business Services

Chair Dean Pepper; Chief Kai Liu; Deputy Chief Paul VandeGraaf
Chair Dean Pepper; Chief Kai Liu; Deputy Chief Paul VandeGraaf

A big part of Police Activity in Cobourg is the Business Services Group that operates on the second floor of the Venture 13 building.  With a projected revenue of more than $3 million in 2018, no detail was provided of costs or what the profit will be used for.  Based on previous years, the proceeds will be used for Capital improvements.  I have been told that the unit is kept separate to avoid the possibility that if it slows down or ceases to operate, there will be no impact on Cobourg taxpayers.  At the current rate of expansion, revenue is expected to be $5 million in 2020 – a big increase from $490K in 2012.  Staff by the end of 2018 will be 33 clerks plus productivity improvements are being made with the help of two consultants.

Note that effective November 1st, the rules on this activity will change – look for a post shortly on this subject.

Cobourg Police Services

In the main activity, of the 31 sworn officers, 10 constables have retired, transferred or resigned and 11 will be hired.  Chief Kai Liu said that an indication of the health of the organization is that there is movement – civilians and Auxiliary constables are becoming Special constables and Special Constables are becoming full constables. 

Auxiliary officers are particularly useful in community engagement projects – e.g. working with kids who might be on a path to criminality.  This tiered policing approach has been used for years in other countries such as Britain.  Deputy Chief Paul VandeGraaf estimated that the 2481 hours contributed by Auxiliary constables since May 2018 have saved the taxpayer about $167K.

Police use their lobby as a warming area and also offer toilets and showers.  From June 2017 to May 2018, 185 males and 253 females aged between 16 and 85 used this service.

In response to a question, Kai said that Cobourg does not currently have a “Cannabis instrument”.  He said that the Province will be purchasing and providing equipment that the Federal Government recently approved for this purpose.

Arbitration Awards

Police Salaries
The increases that Police Association and Board asked for and the increase awarded were:

  2017 2018 2019 2020
Association 1.9% 1.8% 2% 2.5%
Board 1.7% 1.6% 1.7% 1.6%
Awarded 1.7% 1.85% 1.7% 1.6%

The decision was based on awards made in similar towns.  The base constable salary in 2018 will now be $97K from $94K in 2016.

There were a number of other issues decided – one notable example is that if an off-duty officer makes an arrest, he will in future be indemnified for legal costs if he is sued because of this action.  Previously this did not apply if he was off-duty.

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22 Comments
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Walter L. Luedtke
27 October 2018 11:32 am

Congratulations to the Police Services Board and the Police Department for being proactive in cutting down on the tax bill of policing services.
Bill 175 or the Safer Ontario Act defined which policing duties MUST be carried out by fully-salaried, sworn officers and which tasks can be assigned to Auxiliary Officers and civilians,
These changes were sometimes referred to as the ‘civilianization’ of policing. The changes were welcomed by Police Services Boards, but not so much by the police unions.
Alas, the new Ford administration has made it a priority to put Bill 175, passed by the Liberals, ‘under the microscope’ and ‘to fix’ it.
Time will tell how far those fixes will go.

Albert
Reply to  Walter L. Luedtke
28 October 2018 11:19 am

Until now, Cobourg tax payers have shelled out ‘sunshine list’ salaries for 24 constables, 11 fire fighters, and 5 senior municipal staff.

Walter L. Luedtke
Reply to  Albert
29 October 2018 10:52 am

Interesting to see that the mediators/arbitrators appointed by the Police Arbitration Commission almost consistently sided with the Police Services Board in awarding salary hikes.
Seems that the Commission is free from political pressure from Queen’s Park on behalf on the Police Unions.
In the meantime, police forces are stressing over several provincial grants that have been frozen by Premier Doug Ford.

cornbread
27 October 2018 9:02 am

Looks like the Police and their Board are amassing another big slush fund similar to Holdco…when does it end? … or will the next mayor and council open the books on both to our taxpaying citizens and businesses in Cobourg

Frenchy
Reply to  cornbread
27 October 2018 9:37 am

This one makes the holdco slush fund look like chump change.

Kyle
Reply to  Frenchy
27 October 2018 11:29 am

Hey, that fund has has provided important resources for the Police Service. What would they do without kilts for the Chief & Deputy. Having your own marching band for a small town police force is also a must need item. Using it to offset actual operating costs of having half your frontline service off duty is not a priority.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  cornbread
27 October 2018 12:26 pm

Mirriam-Webster Dictionary defines ‘slush fund’ as “a fund for bribing public officials or carrying on corruptive propaganda; an unregulated fund often used for illicit purposes.”

Cambridge Dictionary defines ‘slush fund’ as “an amount of money that is kept for dishonest or illegal activities in politics or business.”

What illegal, dishonest, illicit, corrupt activities have the Police and Board committed with the revenue?

Frenchy
Reply to  Wally Keeler
27 October 2018 12:51 pm

Cambridge Dictionary also defines ‘slush fund’ as “informal money that is kept for unexpected costs: example: We have set up a small slush fund to cover any unexpected running costs.”

Financial Times Lexicon defines slush fund: “A slush fund can be any sum of money gathered and set aside as a reserve.”

From Investopedia: ”A slush fund is a sum of money set aside as a reserve. In businesses, political parties and other organizations, the term is used to describe money that has been set aside as a rainy day fund, or for illicit purposes or personal gain. In accounting terms, a slush fund describes a general ledger account of commingled funds which does not have a designated purpose.”

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Frenchy
27 October 2018 7:26 pm

So what is the problem with a slush fund?

Frenchy
Reply to  Wally Keeler
27 October 2018 10:00 pm

Who controls what it is spent on?

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Frenchy
29 October 2018 1:11 am

It’s discretionary. The Police Department should control it. Who else?

manfred s
Reply to  Wally Keeler
29 October 2018 8:18 am

you’re right, Wally, as long as associated costs such as rent, salaries, etc., that are incurred to earn that income, are repaid out of the proceeds first. The rest is discretionary.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  manfred s
29 October 2018 12:28 pm

So what group of control freaks should make the timely decisions about any disbursement of $20 or more from the police discretionary fund or the Holdco fund?

Frenchy
Reply to  Wally Keeler
29 October 2018 3:50 pm

I don’t know Wally.
What “group of control freaks” make timely decisions about capital purchases for other departments of our town?

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Frenchy
29 October 2018 10:29 pm

I didn’t think you knew,

Frenchy
Reply to  Frenchy
30 October 2018 9:45 am

Answer Wally?

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Frenchy
30 October 2018 10:55 am

You answer my question first.

Frenchy
Reply to  Wally Keeler
30 October 2018 12:13 pm

The same “group of control freaks” (your words) that make timely decisions about capital purchases for other departments of our town.
And, your $20 comment is childish.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Frenchy
30 October 2018 1:06 pm

$20 comment is satire, szarchasm for those control freaks who chronically complain about discretionary funds.

“So what group of control freaks should make the timely decisions about any disbursement of $20 or more from the police discretionary fund or the Holdco fund?”

Your answer of the above question is typical of a weasel politician avoiding a straight transparent reply. So long Frenchy — do work on your capacity to engage creative content.

Frenchy
Reply to  Wally Keeler
30 October 2018 3:20 pm

Wally, you realize that we are talking about millions of dollars here, right?

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Frenchy
30 October 2018 9:49 pm

Do you seriously not know what satire is?

cornbread
Reply to  Wally Keeler
27 October 2018 2:41 pm

They performed at the latest Liberal Nomination Gathering in Cobourg.