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ChiefDanSaugeen Shores Police Chief Dan Rivett presented a list of issues at the second meeting regarding the Saugeen Shores Police Services building held August 17 at the Southampton Town Hall.

Editor's Note: When we originally published this article on August 18, we incorrectly named retired Saugeen Shores Police Constable Doug Leins as Former Southampton Police Chief Doug Lyons. The article has since been corrected.

Hub Staff

A lively crowd of over seventy people came to Southampton’s Town Hall August 17 to attend the second of two Police Service Board meetings, to discuss the current state of the Saugeen Shores Police Services building.

Saugeen Shores Police Chief, Dan Rivett and Police Facilities Committee Board Chair and Saugeen Shores Deputy Mayor Luke Charbonneau gave the same presentation that was shown at the first meeting that was held at the Plex on July 17. The two honed in on the message that the meeting was about accepting public comment about how to move forward with three possible building features presented in the presentation and consultant mock-ups, that the board had looked at in the past, displayed around the room.

Charbonneau started the meeting off by saying the Police Facilities Board was “keen” on the public’s input about what would be presented and would like input on how they should move forward when they address Saugeen Shores Council in the fall. He noted that at the last meeting the possibility of being taken over by Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) was mentioned and that questions about who should police Saugeen Shores is a council decision, but that notes from both meetings will be seen by council.

Councillors Don Matheson, Dave Myette (Police Facility Committee Board Vice Chair), Mayor Mike Smith and Vice Deputy Mayor Diane Huber were in attendance at the meeting.

Police Chief Dan Rivett said the design of the police station just doesn't work for what they need to do in this day and age and that the police need more space. “One of the things we need to make sure we do is build for 25, 30 years out, regardless of the community and council’s choice of policing down the road.” Rivett addressed that he would like to see the municipality stay in control of the police service and reiterated what Charbonnoau said about the OPP. “That’s a council and that’s community choice, that’s yours. Regardless, the space that we’re in right now does not work. We can do what we need to do in there but we need to look 25, 30 years out. What we don't want to do is build a building a third time.”

See: If it’s predictable, it’s generally preventable

Following the presentation which highlighted a few important details about how the current police building is unfit for proper police service, Rivett brought up an important fact that, “the Police Service Act requires a municipality to provide an adequate facility for its police service regardless of the style or type of policing.” He went on to say, “if you choose a different style of policing you’re still holding onto the bill at the end of the day.”

In June, Chief Rivett invited the media and the public to tour the Saugeen Shores Police Services building. Former Saugeen Shores Mayor Art Knechtel is now one of two members of the public who has taken the chief up on the opportunity to tour the facility. Knechtel spoke at the July meeting about the facility conditions and spoke for a shorter time at the August 17 meeting.

See: Moderate crowd at police facilities meeting

Knechtel said that his “head was spinning” with the current state of municipal taxes, and the costs of the proposed police facility options. He also brought up the possibility of going the way of OPP and said “this is the most important decision that council will likely make, I’m sure, in their term.”

“[The OPP] are all around us and to me that option should be looked at. I don’t know how council or even the commission cannot look at the option,” said Knechtel who did not speak about the current police facility conditions.

Luke Charbonneau reiterated that council will be fully aware of the comments made at the meeting and Chief Rivett said that there are 52 municipal police services established in Ontario. “We provide a very effective, very adequate, highly talented and very economical police service,” he said, adding that if Saugeen Shores was taken over by the OPP they would take a year and half to make any decisions.

Retired Saugeen Shores Police Constable Doug Leins spoke next and was able to answer a few questions. He also touched on how the community of Saugeen Shores would suffer if the OPP took over the community’s policing. Leins said that if there is an accident or a need for police assistance in another community, Saugeen Shores would be left without officers to protect it.

“Those [OPP] officers are great. They're trained to the same level so it has nothing do with training but it has to do with the staff planning and the availability of where officers are put,” said Leins.

Part-time guard for the Saugeen Shores Police Service, Barry Follet addressed the audience with a highly informative speech. “I've seen first hand about the rapidly deteriorating conditions of the present police station facility.” Follet said he wanted to give an inside perspective about what officers and “guests” to the station deal with on a daily basis.

Follet highlighted officer and civilian safety and confidentiality concerns. He addressed the need for a secure interview room. He also addressed the heating and mold issues; and above all, the holding cell issues and how, out of necessity, it has caused the inappropriate mixing of male and female minor offenders.

“Offenders as young as 12 years old could be held in a cell adjoining a male or female prisoner being detained for any number of charges. Our conditions dictate that a young offender may be, by necessity, locked in a cell adjacent to that of an adult that may be a known sex offender or possibly being held with related charges,” said Follet, adding that the situation has arisen in which cells designated for one person may be temporality required to house two to three individuals at a time.

Follett presented further issues but stayed on point that it’s imperative that the community “stops talking and moves forward.”

“At the present time it’s my personal opinion that the Town of Saugeen Shores is potentially in a very vulnerable position with respect to defending against any litigation due to the inadequacies of our current facility with respect to the poor health and safety conditions that exist there,” finalized Follett.

Retired Hamilton Detective, Al Smethurst moved to Saugeen Shores three years ago and proclaimed that what Rivett had showcased is actually as bad as it sounds and there is no “fear mongering” involved. “With those concerns I can’t believe you haven't had a civil suit or someone hurt,” said Smethurst.

He went on to recall incidents where police mistakes can have big impact and said that maybe the OPP would be “cost effective, I don’t know” but if the Saugeen Shores Municipal Police force was taken over by the OPP, they would lose important community members. “The only way to get ahead in the OPP is move to Orillia,” he said adding that most officers would be thinking more about the advancement of their careers than making a life in Saugeen Shores.

Over ten people spoke at the meeting, with the majority of people applauding the police service of Saugeen Shores. However, many people wondered why previous council had built an insufficient building in the first place and wanted to make sure it didn’t happen again.

Facility Committee member and former Councillor Doug Freiburger was on council when they made the decision to build the too-small buidling 16 years ago. Freiburger didn’t intend to speak at the meeting but felt compelled to address the critical crowd, and did so with fire.

“Seems all of you in this room happened to forget the year 2000, when the province forced amalgamation on us,” started Freiburger. “When we were forced to amalgamate we lost our transfer funding from Bruce Nuclear, we used to get 1.6 million dollars a year form Bruce Nuclear and we lost it in one fowl swoop. Yes we were taxed with having to build a new police service, which we did. We were taxed with having to try and keep all our staff, and put them in one building. I think what you forget is, you weren't on council, you didn't have those hard choices to make. Council did the best job they could at that time to try and make this work. Yes, we made a mistake, we should have built 10,000 square feet,” said Freiburger with ownership about the situation.

Following two more supporters of the municipal police service, Board Chair Luke Charbonneau ended the two hour meeting, after little comment or ideas were made about how to proceed with the Board’s next steps. The Police Service Board will still accept public comments until mid-September and will be creating a building idea to present to council in November before 2017 budget talks.

Following the meeting Chief Dan Rivett admitted that the committee is going to have a difficult job trying to determine what they feel from the meeting is best. And that following last month’s meeting the most reinforced comment was to commit to building a facility that taxpayers wouldn't need to pay again in a few years.

BarryPart-time guard Barry Follett addressed the crowd at the Southampton Town Hall.

DougNo need for a microphone as retired Saugeen Shores Police Constable Doug Leins spoke to the large crowd at Southampton's Town Hall, August 17.

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