By Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative
Chatham-Kent’s police force may be expanding its patrol borders after council gave the service approval to bid on the contract to police Leamington.
That community was dissatisfied with the level of accountability and service of the Ontario Provincial Police; as a result it will terminate its contract with the OPP in June 2021.
A Request for Proposal (RFP) was issued in September, and CKPS jumped on the chance to expand its services.
Chief Gary Conn provided very little detail about the contents of the RFP, due to confidential and competitive reasons, he said. He will come back to council with the final terms of the agreement once Leamington’s decision is announced in January.
“We currently deal with the influence of Leamington crime. That deals with property crime, drugs and organized crime,” Conn said.
The benefits of officially providing service to Leamington, according to Conn, is cost sharing for services and enhanced police intelligence.
“If we take responsibility for the area and the problems associated with Leamington, then we can effectively deal with the issues of mutual concern in a succinct and co-ordinated fashion.”
Conn said the growth of CKPS will increase access to training opportunities for members.
“Opportunity not only for civilian, but for sworn members as well. The larger we are, the more we will put back into the community,” he said. “Growth is an indication of opportunity. This will bring more people into the area and access to a pool of potential community partners that could translate into new opportunities for both communities.”
The five-year contract would add an extra 300 sq. kms. of area to patrol for the CKPS, a size approximately one-eighth of Chatham-Kent.
Leamington’s council would appoint an advisor to sit on the board to provide input during open and closed sessions, but the individual would not have voting rights.
“Our service espouses the urban-rural policing mode we have now and have had for over 22 years, as opposed to other services, which may have more of a concentration to rural policing, versus municipal or urban policing,” Conn said.