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Leamington issues policing survey, Essex to have one on the way


by Sylene Argent

Last week, the Municipality of Leamington issued a policing survey to garner public feedback from its constituents. Essex will have a it’s own survey ready for its residents in the future. Both municipalities are policed by the OPP.

  “Due to widespread public concern regarding [the] policing service in Leamington, Council has initiated a review to examine the current level of service being provided and to identify the policing priorities that are most important to our citizens. Ultimately, we aim to determine which policing option will provide the highest level of public safety in our community,” a press release issued to leamington.ca notes.

  Due to COVID-19, residents and those who work in Leamington are encouraged to provide their input through the online survey about how policing in Leamington can be improved to better respond to public safety challenges.

  Through the survey, residents and those who work in Leamington are ask to comment on their general assessment of the current level of policing, and the strengths and weaknesses of the current service.

  Survey respondents are also asked to rate response times, and enforcement of criminal and traffic laws, etc. They are also asked how may times they have interacted with the police in the past five years.

  Leamington’s Deputy Mayor Larry Verbeke said the municipality just renewed its three-year policing contract with the OPP at the end of 2019. It needs to give one-year notice to the OPP if it does decide to change the service provider.

  The purpose of the survey is to “try and see what people really want,” he said. He hopes the survey will have good uptake so Council can gage how the residents feel about policing. He is looking forward to seeing that input.

  Residents and those who work in the area have until June 5 to complete the survey. It is available at leamington.ca.

  Essex Councillor Kim Verbeek serves as a member on the Essex Police Services Board. She applauds Leamington’s efforts in issuing the survey on policing. She has been working to get one done in Essex since she was elected in 2018.

  Verbeek thought the questions laid out in the Leamington survey were great, especially since respondents have an opportunity to provide comments.

  In having a survey on policing created in Essex, Verbeek wants to grow the relationship with the OPP and the Town and strengthen the relationship between the OPP and the community. It would also be an opportunity to look for areas of improvement as things are always changing.

  “I want to use it as a learning tool, it will give us good insight,” she said, adding it would also give the OPP good information as well. “An important reason to conduct the survey is to ensure expectations are reflected in how our community is policed.”

  At the October 21, 2019 regular Essex Council meeting, Verbeek put forward a motion that Council consider conducting a Public Meeting and/or survey to discuss the provision of Police Services in the Town of Essex, as encouraged by the Ontario Association of Police Services Boards (OAPSB).

  “What drove this motion was several times in the last few years at our OAPSB conferences, the police service boards are encouraged to reach out and do public information sessions with the public,” Verbeek explained of the motion during that Council meeting. “The province has also mandated that we all do a Community Wellness and Safety Plan. Essex has decided to collaborate with our neighbouring municipalities to develop this [plan], and I think information we would get back from a survey would be very helpful for the team putting together this mandate.”

  Councillor Chris Vander Doelen expressed concerns at the meeting regarding polls possibly being rigged.

  The motion carried.

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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