MPS / OPP UPDATE
Midland Police/OPP transition update: January 2018
The Midland Police Services Board (PSB) meeting was held this week on January 4th
. The agenda dealt with Board Chair and Vice Chair elections, financial reports, several matters pertaining to the transition to OPP, and a minor item discussing a potential application for a Police Effectiveness & Modernization (PEM) grant. There were three items discussed in closed session, including approval of the previous closed session minutes, the status of bargaining on transition to the OPP, and issues surrounding the extraordinary $332K invoice for legal services authorized by the Chief to prosecute a former officer.
This last item refers to a letter submitted to the law firm Johnstone & Cowling asking for detail and an explanation of circumstances surrounding an invoice for legal fees that took all five members of the Police Services Board by surprise when it was submitted for payment by Chief Osborne on November 20. This invoice was more than four times the previous “worst case” estimate (i.e. going to trial) submitted by Mr. Johnstone, and was not supported by any interim invoices or a detailed breakdown of services. This is another example of the lack of transparency and accountability that midlandcommunity.ca has been so concerned about, and why we continue to support the transition to OPP.
Back to the elections, the Board voted 3-2 to re-elect Dixon and Strathearn to Chair and Vice-Chair respectively. The deciding vote in both cases was Glen Canning who observed that, given the limited time remaining in the Midland PSB mandate and the complexity and urgency of issues on their plate, this was not the time for a shake-up and loss of continuity.
One of the key issues facing the PSB and the town of Midland is receiving final approval from the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC) with respect to the ‘Section 40 Disbandment process’. The OCPC rightfully confirmed that a public hearing is not required and it granted “conditional consent for the Midland Police Services Board to move ahead with its plans to disband the MPS and to take further steps with respect to termination”. The condition attached to this consent is that the OCPC wants to be fully satisfied that severance arrangements with the Chief, the Inspector and the uniform/non-uniform bargaining units have either been mutually agreed upon or have been directed to binding arbitration. Either case satisfies the OCPC.
One has to wonder why these matters aren’t concluded already, but we have no visibility into what is making it such a protracted process when the individual and collective agreements already address the eventuality of a move to OPP. The three-year severance clauses for the Chief and the Inspector are public knowledge; the uniformed officers that transition to OPP will join the highest paid police force in the province; and one member of the Midland Police Association stated at the September 8 public meeting that he would depart with ‘buckets of cash’. Given all this, we are left wondering what remains to be negotiated.
We encourage all parties at the table to bargain in good faith and without ulterior motives in order to ensure a continued orderly, effective and fair transition for the benefit of all Midlanders, including the members of the Midland Police Service.
This is the right thing to do so that the healing can commence.
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