Brighton mayor sounds siren for one county-wide police service for Northumberland

Brighton mayor sounds siren for one county-wide police service for Northumberland

Northumberland County Council has advocated hiring a consultant to study the costs of a unique nationwide police service.

A consolidated police force for all of Northumberland County “would save literally millions of dollars,” says the Brighton Mayor.

Brighton Mayor Brian Ostrander says it’s time to look into the logistics and cost of a nationwide service here in Northumberland.

“If we all row together – there’s a taxpayer, we like to say – maybe it’s time to see if there are cost savings to juggle policing,” Ostrander told the Brighton Independent.

“A merged force would save literally millions of dollars across the country.”

Ostrander, deputy director for Northumberland County, had the support of three of his colleagues on the county council, who voted in favor of a motion he tabled on the issue of policing during a recent county council meeting.

The council voted to approve a $75,000 budget to hire a consultant to update the final report of the 2007 Northumberland County Police Study to explore opportunities for a consolidated police service.

Cobourg Councilor and Mayor Lucas Cleveland, Port Hope Councilor and Mayor Olena Hankivsky, and Alnwick/Haldimand Township Councilor and Mayor John Logel supported Ostrander’s motion. It was passed by a weighted vote of 17 to 9.

Trent Hills Borough Councilor and Mayor Bob Crate and Hamilton Borough Councilor and Mayor Scott Jibb, along with Borough Clerk Mandy Martin, Mayor of Cramahe Borough, voted against Ostrander’s motion.

“I think it’s amazing that we’ve spent months on the budget – months – and suddenly we’re here at the last gate and this point is being introduced,” Martin said.

“I think it’s incredible – $75,000 – just like that.”

Ostrander introduced his motion at the end of the council meeting, just before Northumberland County’s 2023 budget was approved.

He told the warden he raised the issue at his first formal opportunity as he was busy with the local elections in the fall of 2022 and didn’t know who would sit for the county council’s horseshoe in 2023.

“Anecdotally, County Council members and I have various discussions about cost sharing, cost savings, shared services, what we can do, what we can’t do, and the options,” Ostrander said.

Crate, who voted against the motion, said he was not involved in any of these discussions and bemoans the fact that not all council members were privy to the dialogue.

Ostrander told the Independent he proposed the idea during the meeting as it seemed like the right place and time.

“I was aware of the 2007 study of consolidated policing in Northumberland County and thought maybe that would be a good place to have this conversation,” he said.

“I know Cobourg will be considering a hugely expensive new build for its headquarters that is showing its age. They expect a new building to take two or three years to do this. Port Hope is now chiefless so they are in the recruitment process.”

The 2007 study highlighted significant cost savings for every community across Northumberland County, Ostrander noted. A consolidated service would involve a policing contract with the county, whether through the OPP or another force. In 2007, the county received an offer, and it was from the OPP.

“But it’s 15 years later, who knows what would happen,” Ostrander said.

“For Brighton this would be a cost-saving measure which would not affect the level or delivery of police services to our community. It looks like the province is moving towards a Northumberland-wide police service body – sometime in the very near future – we reckon before the end of the year,” he noted.

“A consolidated police contract across Northumberland makes a lot of sense from an administrative point of view, we just need to see the numbers.”

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