Innisfil candidates call for police review
Rick Vanderlinde Simcoe.com Sep 17, 2010
|COOKSTOWN — South Simcoe Police will likely face a review following the election after every candidate at a Cookstown debate Thursday agreed it’s time to look at alternatives.
The candidates — Gord Wauchope, Barb Baguley, Bill Van Berkel, Dan Davidson, Lynn Dollin, and Rob Nicol — all said the police force needs to compete for the contract with the OPP.
But Wauchope, the town’s deputy mayor and a former Toronto police officer, offered another idea by suggesting a large regional department could be created by joining Barrie Police.
“Policing is a very high cost to the taxpayers of Innisfil. I think that we have to address it in the upcoming year by looking at the OPP or joining with Barrie,” Wauchope said. “The costs are escalating, they are going through the roof.”
Wauchope cautioned that while the OPP may be able to do the job for less money, citizens would likely see reduced response time.
The candidates were responding to a question from a resident at an all-candidates’ meeting organized by the Cookstown Chamber of Commerce.
South Simcoe Police was created after the Bradford and Innisfil police departments joined forces in 1997. Innisfil’s policing costs continue to rise, with the department seeing a 5.3 per cent increase in 2009 and a 7.7 per cent hike this year.
South Simcoe Police services cost $11 more per taxpayer than the average among 82 other municipalities. The Municipal Competitiveness Study showed Innisfil taxpayers are paying $239 for policing while the survey average is $228.
Wauchope’s opponent in the mayor’s race, Barb Baguley, said all town contracts should be retendered from “time to time”.
Ward 7 Coun. Lynn Dollin said she will be quick to remind the successful candidates of their promise to review the police service contract after the election.
“This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Now that we have a commitment from all of you, I’m very pleased about,” she said to a round of applause.
Last year, Dollin and Coun. Dan Davidson targeted Chief Bruce Davis for driving a Mercedes Benz as his “work vehicle” and getting a “corner office” in the new Innisfil police station when he already has an office in the Bradford headquarters.
Davidson said Mayor Brian Jackson chastised him for asking Davis what type of car he used for work.
“I got a phone from the mayor the next day asking me to tone it down,” he said. “That’s the kind of council I’ve had to work with.”
Davis receives a $600 a month car allowance as part of an open-ended employment contract, which does not include a review date. He told council the 2004 Mercedes was leased for about $550 a month.
Dollin and Davidson were concerned about the “perception of a police chief driving a Mercedes”. Davis now drives a newer model Honda SUV.
Coun. Bill Van Berkel, who is running for deputy mayor, said he also wants a review to “look at some of the things that have been going on” within the force.
While he wasn’t specific, Van Berkel was referring to a case that saw a police officer reinstated after a costly police tribunal ruled the force had fired him illegally.
“I would like a review. Some of the things that have happened are not right and need to be looked into,” he said. “Some of these costs are way out of line.”
Dollin reminded 100 voters at the meeting that municipal councils do not have direct control over their police forces, which are overseen by a police services board. The South Simcoe Police Services Board is made up of two elected officials and two provincially appointed officials.
Davis is the second longest serving police chief in Ontario at 15 years.