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Council seeks OPP accountability for police services

Mayor says organized crime operates openly near Elliot Lake 
EL 9
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Elliot Lake Lake Councillor Ed Pearce received unanimous council support to get more accountability from the OPP on police services the agency provides the city.

He presented a notice of motion to council's Monday night virtual meeting demanding a review of the services provided by the East Algoma OPP Detachment at a cost of more than $2.7 Million a year.

Pearce favoured a return to a municipal police force. While he had no idea what it would cost to create a local force to replace the OPP, Pearce noted that Elliot Lake would have to provide one year's written notice to exit its contract with the provincial police.

He said it's obvious that OPP enforcement activity is inadequate, that the detachment is understaffed.

Coun. Luc Cyr said the city needs to conduct a cost-benefit assessment of all city departments. He called for that to start with policing.

Coun. Chris Patrie supported Pearce's motion. 

"The crime is astronomical. There are businesses being robbed, there are cars being broken into," Patrie said. "I know someone who had an issue when their business was broken into. Dispatch told them someone would be there in half an hour and to wait for them in the parking lot. Well, that's asinine."

Mayor Dan Marchisella said council is seeing a lot of billable hours of service being added to the city's invoice from the OPP as short staffing leads to overtime hours.

"That's not helping our situation," he said. "They're not doing anything for Elliot Lake but we're seeing fentanyl on our streets. We're seeing crystal meth on our streets."

"We have a help centre where these poor people come to get help and they walk out the door and there are people soliciting right there."

He was particularly critical of the OPP Crime Centre being based in North Bay, fours hours away.

It goes right back to the hierarchies that say 'We need our special crime unit in North Bay'. We need to review the whole system and not just financial.

If we're going to be paying for 20 officers, well we better be paying for those 20 officers to be looking after our community.

When we know that there's organized crime right down the road and everybody knows who they are and what they're doing.

Our cops had better get down there and knock some doors down like they used to do 20 years ago. That isn't happening.

Coun. Sandy Finamore said she wants the issue to come forward for cost analysis and Coun. Norman Mann said it's time to set up a meeting through Mr. Gagnon (CAO Daniel Gagnon) to try to resolve the issue.

"If there's a wound let's try to heal it," Mann said.

Coun. Tom Turner said,

"It's sort of an understood joke that this is known as the Walmart style contract. Come in low. Once they've got you, the price goes up," said Coun. Tom Turner.

He wants to see how Elliot Lake's contract with the OPP would compare to that which was just set for Espanola.

The examination of the cost of policing in Elliot Lake will be part of the city's 2022 budgeting process.


About the Author: Brent Sleightholm

As a reporter, Brent has covered everything from amateur and professional sports, to politics, entertainment, police and courts, to human interest stories and government issues
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