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