The union representing members of the Timmins Police Service has gone public with concerns about what it calls a personnel crisis.
The Timmins Police Association has sent a media release stating “seeing fewer police officers patrolling the streets of Timmins isn’t an illusion. Given the retention issues plaguing the Timmins Police Service there simply aren’t enough officers to effectively police the (city).”
Association President Luc Lamarche says while recruitment has gone relatively well in the last year, the issue for them is keeping their members. “We’ve lost far more than we’ve gained, which put us in a bad spot. Like any organization, we have some internal issues that have been lingering for many years, which plays into morale and certain things going on at the office.”
He adds he isn’t going to go into detail in the media, but Lamarche does say his number one concern is the safety of the people of Timmins and the officers on the street. “We are literally in a position right now where we aren’t providing adequate levels of policing to our community, and somebody has to admit that. I think we are the first ones out of the gate. That’s why we are looking for some assistance now from [The Ontario Civilian Police Commission] (OCPC) to provide us with some solutions to hopefully get us out of this mess.”
The OCPC has a broad mandate which includes ensuring police service boards are providing sufficient oversight of police services including adequate and effective policing along with maintaining public confidence. Lamarche says his understanding is they don’t need the city’s blessing for the OCPC to come in.
“I can’t honestly comment on what’s going to take place when they get involved. We’ve never gone through this process here. But they are definitely the right organization to come in and help us address these issues.” He adds he can’t predict what will happen going forward but he does know the status quo is not an option anymore.
Lamarche says the association is not trying to scare anyone by going public with their concerns, but instead raising “a serious issue for the community”.
“If you don’t have enough police on the streets, obviously you aren’t providing effective policing and there is an inherent public safety risk that comes with that and an inherent officer safety risk,” he says. “The goal is to raise the concern level that we are going to get to a point where we simply won’t have enough officers out there to do the job.”
He adds the association is committed to working with the police services board and the administration and hopes they can sit down with the OCPC to come up with solutions as quickly as possible. “If you ask me what those solutions are the answer is truly, I don’t know. We have run out of ideas.”
We have reached out to the police board for comment.
*** Story by Lee Griffi