County Council Reviews RCMP Service in Cumberland
Cumberland County Council took a second look at a recent decision to reduce RCMP services. The review was requested by a community member of the Cumberland Police Advisory Board.
The Chair of that board, Councillor Ernie Gilbert, asked the council to reconsider the cost-cutting measure which called for a reduction of three RCMP staff.
When asked if he wanted to make a motion, Gilbert declined. Instead, he asked that council allow the board member who raised the concern to make a presentation at an upcoming meeting.
Rennie Bugley, the municipality’s Chief Administrative Officer gave an update on his discussions with officials from the provincial Department of Justice which must approve any changes to the RCMP agreement.
Bugley says all parties agree there would not actually be any reduction in service. He noted the police force has operated with three unfilled positions over the last few years. He said, in effect, cutting three positions simply means not filling those vacancies. Bugley said, “We just stop paying for the vacancies.” He added, “We’ll have the exact same service while saving $395,000.”
Pugwash RCMP Detachment in Question
Councillor Lynn Welton of Wallace said the only thing that bothered her was the possible closure of the Pugwash detachment. She is concerned about travel time and efficiency of service if police must respond from farther away.
Bugley said the RCMP has agreed to review that question, especially since Oxford is actively considering an offer from the Town of Amherst to provide services from its town police force.
Bugley said council may want to consider an alternate presence in Pugwash, perhaps in the proposed multi-purpose centre being proposed as part of the Waterfront Development Plan.
While not part of the discussion, the quarterly stats on police calls, tabled at tonight’s meeting, show stable numbers over the past year. Oxford RCMP responded to 334 calls while Pugwash attended 275.
Council discussed some other ideas to reduce the administrative load for police officers, perhaps freeing them to attend policing duties. The CAO said the RCMP would consider hiring some civilian staff to handle serving papers, court duties, etc. In fact, Bugley said it may be possible for some county staff to assume some of the administrative functions now handled by RCMP officers.
While the proposed changes work their way through the system, Warden Al Gillis said council can re-visit the issue at any time. He said, “In a year’s time if we find that we made the wrong decision we can always go back and ask for additional officers.”
Meanwhile, council will invite a presentation from the community member of the Police Advisory Board who raised the concern. That will give the council another chance to discuss this important issue.
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