Cornwall police could outsource services to ease budget

In this February 2018, file photo, Cornwall Police Chief Designate Danny Aikman and Chief Dan Parkinson review a 2017 use of force report during a police board meeting. Parkinson believes there are services within the department that could be outsourced, ultimately saving money in the police budget. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

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CORNWALL – The city’s police chief believes there are services his department performs that could be outsourced to someone other than front line police officers.

Dan Parkinson shared his thoughts Wednesday with Cornwall Newswatch on the impending passage of the Safer Ontario Act. Bill 175, passed on Thursday, updates the decades-old Police Services Act.

“The argument can be made, why do we have a fully-armed, fully-trained police officer going to a report of a shed that was broken into? Could not a person working for the police department in some quasi-sort of uniform identifying them as a member of the police service, not attend that call and take that report in place of a fully-armed, fully-trained police officer,” Parkinson.

“We can do certain things with civilians up to a certain level that would hopefully help police budgets,” the chief said.

Police board chairman Andre Rivette did not come down one way on the issue of outsourcing, saying it should be a board decision.

Bill 175, the Safer Ontario Act, makes some sweeping changes on everything from the actions of the police oversight body to the roles of police officers.

Chief Parkinson said the update was “long overdue” but there needs to be an “abundance of caution” moving forward.

“Some things never come fast enough. This is one that I think we all have to be very careful about. I think it’s a significant change in the way policing will be delivered in the province,” he said.

One of the contentious issues in the bill was giving police boards the power to “civilianize” officers who can’t do their job due to injury or disability.

Parkinson said “civilianization is a positive thing” and something that’s not new to the force, noting the communications center and court security staff have been civilianized. There could be some “push back” from the associations (Cornwall Police Association and Cornwall Police Senior Officers Association) on certain aspects of it, he added.

Cornwall police board chairman Andre Rivette believes that decision should remain with police management. Other police boards across Ontario have raised concerns as well.

“We are here to basically oversee and I think we should remain in that job,” Rivette told CNW. “I would like to leave it in the chief’s and deputy chief’s hands and they know the day to day operation.”

The new legislation will also see the Special Investigations Unit, which is a police watchdog, stronger and more transparent. Among the changes, officers will have to comply with the SIU during its investigation unless it’s unlawful or impracticable to do so.

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