'Uncertainties' ahead for Tecumseh policing

A six-year policing contract is ending and Tecumseh mayor Gary McNamara says the big takeaway is that a new Police Services Act will mean some changes are coming to policing in the town.

The budget for the use of the Ontario Provincial Police services has about a two per cent increase, something McNamara said the town can't control. 

"There's a little over two per cent increase to the budget, coming in a little over $3.5 million for 2020," said McNamara.

That's the last year in the six-year contract with the OPP for Tecumseh and the new Police Services Act comes into effect in 2020, which will affect how Tecumseh moves forward.

"The OPP are looking at more of an integrated police model with the five municipalities in the county," said McNamara. "Until those regulations come out ... your guess is as good as mine."

The changes to the Police Services Act includes changes to police oversight — streamlining the Special Investigations Unit process — and emphasizes community-based policing. 

McNamara said there's a lot of uncertainties on how five police services boards will be amalgamated into one board, and there's a concern in making sure all voices are heard on the board. 

"What will this mean in terms of boots on the ground and how policing will be done .... it's not going to be a one-off policing contract or board," said McNamara.

The report presented to Tecumseh council moves forward into the town's 2020 budget, but it's a non-negotiable contract, so didn't need to be voted on. The town ranks third in lowest cost per household in the region for policing services at about $400 per household.

Accidental 911 calls taking up officer time

Tecumseh council also approved lobbying smart phone manufacturers to develop a solution to prevent the increasing number of 911 misdials. 

Within Essex County, 911 misdials have increased by 65 per cent — for an average of 30 calls a day. As of Oct. 12, 2019 the OPP had responded to more than 1,000 911 misdials in Tecumseh alone. Those calls are billed to the town per-call, and take more than an hour of two OPP officers' time.