With respect to Chip Martin’s “Crime Down, Budget Up” (London Free Press; 2002/12/12)

Mr. Martin writes that “The police services board blithely ignores spending directives from city hall…”

What pathetic nonsense!

For years the Chiefs appeared before City Council in a PR exercise and asked for less than what they needed.

“…and virtually rubber-stamps the spending plan of the chief.”

Only because they had been previously and arbitrarily advised by Council about what was acceptable. Regardless of actual need.

Politicians then decline to ask tough questions…”

Finally, some truth.

Following my written submission to Council during the previous budget process (to which not a single one of them replied), when the Chief appeared before them, only Councillor Winninger made any pretense of digging into their request, and even that was only a superficial question about staffing the downtown foot patrol office.

“…and invariably police get the money they want. It happens year after year.”

Sorry, Mr. Martin. But that is what sewage sites are typically full of.

The latest chapter in this sorry tradition began when city council asked its own departments and outside boards and commissions to limit 2003 spending increases to between three and five per cent.”

Like I said, an arbitrary ceiling. Regardless of need.

But the police services board decided to hire 30 more officers and increase total spending 7.4 per cent…”

Wrong again. With respect to the chronology… only after years of written correspondence with the Chief, and more recently, an escalation of my own political action culminating with formal complaints against police officers with respect to enforcement, did the Chief and the Board start to speak publicly about the problem.

“…All this additional spending comes despite sharp decreases in crime.”

More nonsense. Crime statistics reflect the ability and/or willingness of the police to lay charges. If charges aren’t laid, statistics fall.

“…George Duncan wants to hire a general manager of protective services to get greater control of police, fire and ambulance spending.”

Super George isn’t super enough to investigate all the needs of all of our essential services. That’s what we have Boards and Commissions for. Mind you, there does need to be more transparency.

[more nonsense omitted]

So it should come as no surprise that London has seen the biggest drop in crime in any metropolitan centre in the country. Statistics Canada noted…”

Again, there may have been a drop in the stats, but Mr. Martin is using a sleight-of-hand argument I think. I have been complaining for years about the discriminate way in which police enforce the Safe Streets Act and ignore other illegal behaviours. Interested people can visit my web site and review some of the correspondence.

Speaking of which, I just heard Jim Chapman (CJBK “Talk of the Town”) comment about the fact that he has received a calendar from MPP Bob Wood, but there’s been inadequate response to the plight of the Leatham family.

Why hasn’t Bob Wood responded to my email about the possibility of using bylaw enforcement officers to enforce some laws so that police can concentrate on more serious ones? He and his Crime Control Commission didn’t mind pointing an accusatory posturing finger against parents who, it was intimated, were not doing a proper job of raising their children. He doesn’t mind appearing on the New PL’s “Inquiry” program to disparage welfare recipients and to justify the inadequate Legal Aid system. Where is he when asked to something substantive? When a critical finger is pointed at him?

But the police services board…”

Cannot be trusted. When I asked to appear before it to discuss my concerns about police enforcement, they refused that request. More recently, when they ruled upon my complaints against specific officers, they did so without inviting me to appear and present my position. I accuse the current mayor, former mayor Gosnell, and the other Board members of political cowardice.

Why are uniformed police offices doing essentially clerical jobs at the front desk of the police station?

That’s a fine question. And it should be noted, based upon my personal experience, that they’re not doing a very good job of it.

Why have city councillors seeking a workload analysis the force is using to justify hiring another 30 officers for $1 million having so much trouble getting it — some told it’s confidential?

Why will the Chief only release city-wide stats to me instead of the more specific ones I’ve asked for? The answer is… more political cowardice.

Why aren’t Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco and former mayor Tom Gosnell, both members of the police services board, showing greater leadership on behalf of taxpayers by curbing police spending?

[see previous commentary above]

If London police don’t get what they want from city hall, they can appeal to a citizen body established by the province that can override the decisions of local elected officials.”

When I appealed they rubber-stamped the Chief’s decision to reject my complaints against specific officers by simply doing a “paper investigation.”

Let the cuts begin and let the police board appeal them if it chooses.”

That’s right Chip. Let our local politicians off the hook for the millions they spent and borrowed on capital improvements. Which is what has created the impetus for cuts to services, many of which are essential (especially to the most disadvantaged in our community).


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