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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Council receives presentation from OPP on municipal policing billing

Inspector Glenn Miller (L) and Sergeant Peter Marshall present OPP cost-recovery methodology to Council during Monday’s regular meeting.

by Adam Gault

Representatives from the local OPP attended the Essex Council meeting on Monday evening to deliver a presentation outlining municipal policing billing and the application of costs collected from municipalities subject to the OPP Billing Model cost-recovery methodology that was first introduced in 2015. They also addressed overall concerns surrounding policing coverage, response times, and the OPP mandate.

Sergeant Peter Marshall, an OPP Contract Analyst/Transition Coordinator, and Inspector Glenn Miller provided an in-depth breakdown on the billing model and categories of OPP cost-recovery, including base policing services, calls for service, and overall administration.

While the OPP is funded by the Province of Ontario, the OPP Billing Model cost-recovery methodology seeks to supplement the cost of policing by municipalities that have amalgamated their police services into the OPP.

Costs for municipalities are based on overall staffing, and the type of policing activities performed over a given year.

For 2019, the allocation of the municipal workload has been determined to be 56.2 percent base services, and 43.8 percent calls for service.

Base service costs are allocated among municipalities on an equal per property basis (residential, commercial, and industrial), and include basic duties such as general patrol, 24-hour emergency response, RIDE checks, training, and administrative duties.

Calls for service costs are allocated to their respective municipalities based on their individual usage level, and can include crime calls for offences such as break and enters, and mischief, provincial statutes - such as the Mental Health or Trespass to Property Act, and motor vehicle collisions.

Municipalities will also be billed for additional costs, such as overtime, court security, and prisoner transport.

Since the model was introduced in 2015, the Town of Essex has seen a decrease in the average cost per property from $463 in 2014, to $363 in 2019, with the average cost holding in that range for the last several years.

“It shows a stability for your municipality,” Marshall explained, adding Essex is considered one of the safest communities nationwide.

Councillor Steve Bjorkman asked if the costs could be impacted by the distance officers have to travel in the municipality, and that if greater distances increased the cost to the town.

Marshall explained that a call of service begins when the officer is dispatched. Their location to the incident could have an impact, depending on how the officer scores the incident on their Daily Activity Report.

Should it fall under a billable call for service, it could necessitate a cost to the town. If it is determined they’re not engaging in a call for service, then it would not be. As they are averaged over the course of the year, spikes in service would be alleviated by the average.

Councillor Sherry Bondy raised concerns regarding overtime, inquiring if more calls for service equal more overtime, and officers required on duty.

Marshall explained any overtime an officer takes part in, has to be approved first. He added the OPP make sure to try to keep overtime down to a very minimum, and that it’s strategically going about how to handle that call for service.

Addressing concerns of police coverage and visibility in the community, Inspector Glenn Miller offered Council and the public full assurances that police are always available in every pocket of the municipality, and that officers treat every call for service with the upmost diligence and care.

“While we don’t discuss how many officers we have working at any one time for purposes of officer safety, there has never been a time where there has been a call made to the OPP that has not been responded to in a timely manner,” Miller said. “Our OPP members are in a constant state of motion, and I can assure you that we always have officers on duty to respond to a call for service, or those emergent in nature.”

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