Too late to consider regional policing



“Perfunctory” is one of those words we no longer use enough in conversation.

As in: “One would expect Brockville's study on regional policing would be a perfunctory affair.”

OK, fine. I talk like that because I'm an English lit nerd. But the word applies nonetheless in this situation.

Councillor Jeff Earle's motion to study an expanded city police force covering Prescott and Augusta goes to a full council vote next Tuesday. How that vote will go remains an open question.

It won clear majority support at the finance, administration and operations committee meeting yesterday, but even supporters of the plan seemed to doubt anything would come of it.

Augusta Township is a dim prospect for regional policing, since it already signed a renewed Ontario Provincial Police contract.

And Mayor David Henderson suggested his Prescott counterpart, Brett Todd, had responded to him on this renewed regional policing talk with little more than a shrug and a “what's-up-with-that?”

Henderson pointed out the whole plan is a moot point if the other municipalities don't participate.

He said this as committee members were voting on an amendment to Earle's motion, then the motion itself.

“Yeah, we know,” the response seemed to go. “Let's just ask the question and see.”

And be done with it, perhaps.

Earle's point is legitimate. With the OPP costing expected to yield a proposal to the city in the coming months, it is incumbent on Brockville's leaders to explore all possibilities.

Unless bringing in the OPP is your agenda, would you not want to show taxpayers you've explored all the alternatives?

It is, however, too late for this alternative.

The Brockville, Prescott and Augusta joint board idea may have been an alternative half a year ago, before Augusta renewed its contract and before Prescott was this close to renewing its contract.

By now, well, it's hard not to agree with Earle that the regional idea was resisted by some members of council who "threw it under the bus without giving it a fair shot" last winter.

Still, there is an OPP vote coming, and an election next year. Perfunctorily asking the question, then saying “we did give it a shot and it failed,” may be all the political cover some people will need.

But the reality is regional policing is no longer an idea our partners can realistically consider, so it will fail.

Which brings us back to a clear-cut choice, when the OPP proposal does come in, between our current police force and an OPP contract.

And maybe that's enough of a headache for now.