Posts Tagged ‘LPS’

Thanks for Helping!

September 19, 2008

What can I say about The Londoner that won’t sound self-serving? I mean, they’ve been so accomodating to me!

During the last municipal election campaign when other media outlets were ignoring the way that I couldn’t participate, Ben Benedict wrote an article about it. They’ve published many of the letters that I’ve sent to them. Phil has given me permission to republish a number of their articles on my site, and he even responds to my emails.

And now this.

scanned graphic

I hope that the Transportation Advisory Committee and the Community Safety and Crime Prevention Advisory Committee and the Environment and Transportation Committee and the Community and Protective Services Committee and Shane Maguire and Sgt. Tom O’Brien all read it.

Thanks for the validation, Bill.

Perhaps they’ll have more difficulty ignoring someone of your stature.

London’s Traffic Enforcement Stinks

August 20, 2008

Three weeks ago, Phil McLeod penned an editorial in The Londoner which concluded that there needs to be more police enforcement of speed limits in London (‘Needed, more enforcement of speed limits.’) Sgt. Tom O’Brien (London Police Services) responded with an article of his own (‘More Enforcement to catch speeders won’t be enough‘). What did we learn?

Phil referred to “red light jumpers at every intersection.” Sgt. Tom admitted that “London drivers are running red and amber lights” and that “London drivers speed.”

Sgt. Tom wrote that because of stepped-up enforcement of aggressive drivers, police had 6,274 speeding tickets Y-T-D vs 5,050 for the same period last year, 446 red light tickets vs 407, and 99 amber light tickets vs 79. What that suggests to me is that police could have laid many more charges for these types of driver behaviours in the previous year if they had been as motivated to deploy their resources toward that end.

Sgt. Tom tells us that “with limited resources police must be selective in where we deploy our efforts.” In other words, we’re being told that there aren’t enough traffic enforcement officers and equipment to properly do the job. One can only guess how many tickets might have been issued had there been sufficient effort. That being the case, the numbers offered by Sgt. Tom are only mildly interesting, and cannot be used to understand the seriousness of the problem of dangerous driving in London.

The fact that fatalities have gone down can only be attributed to dumb luck.

Sgt. Tom tells us that “fines and enforcement are not enough to alter the distracted and selfish behaviour of many drivers.” That’s true. But it doesn’t excuse the lack of sufficient enforcement.

Sgt. Tom tells us that the problem of providing sufficient enforcement continues to increase along with urban sprawl. That’s something that concerned citizens have been saying loudly for years. And it’s not just police services that are negatively impacted. Other emergency services are similarly challenged to meet increased demand, at the same time that local politicians berate them for failing to stay within arbitrarily-imposed budget constraints.

Sgt. Tom claims that “roadside electric sign boards” are employed in the effort to combat speeding. Last time I inquired, I was ignored. Before that, Sgt. Tom told me that LPS only has a single device. Has that changed? I haven’t seen one since I tried to get police/politicians to attend to the dangerous Commissioners/King Edward Ave. intersection.

Why doesn’t LPS use dummy sign boards? For that matter, why aren’t dummy police vehicles being strategically located to slow down drivers?

We’re told that LPS is currently using two “ghost traffic cars which are virtually invisible to inattentive drivers.” In a city of this size and the continually increasing volume of traffic on our roads, that seems like a token gesture, at best. Why aren’t there many more?

London media seldom draws much attention on these subjects, so Mr. McLeod’s editorial was much appreciated by me. But it’s a drop in the bucket. There needs be much more scrutiny by London media before we’re likely to see much real action by local police/politicians. But given the way that they all ignored the way in which my applications to TAC and CSCPAC were secretly ‘handled’ that’s not likely going to happen.

Paul Berton’s ‘Road Sharing’ Half-Truths

May 18, 2008

With respect to Paul Berton’s recent Point Of View column…

The LFP editor asks “how disturbing…to hear about hit-and-runs involving cars and cyclists like one over the weekend on Exeter Road”? He asks some questions about interaction between motorists/biyclists/pedestrians and he cites some stats (presumably obtained from the police, although he doesn’t say so).

Since Mr. Berton generally just ignores my posts to the LFP website, I’ll put it here as well, and you can comment about it if you like:

It’s About Time
Greg Fowler (

How long have I been trying to interest you in pedestrian rights/safety issues? Nice of you to finally get around to writing something. Too bad though that you didn’t think to pick up the phone and talk to me. Are pedestrians using crosswalks? Who’s determined to be at fault, numbers of tickets issued, etc? Did you think to ask any questions about those stats, Paul? Did you think to ask Tom O’Brien why only 30% of auto operators are being ticketed for striking pedestrians? When you want to give this serious issue the attention that it deserves, you let me know.

Jonathan Sher’s Police Budget Half-Truth

February 4, 2008

Today’s newspaper article (‘Police budget under fire‘; London Free Press; 2008/02/04) appears to be another vainglorious attempt to stir up local ratepayers and drive a wedge between police and local government.

Different Truths 
Don’t be too quick to accept what’s presented to you. Yes, it’s true that the police budget is taking up a larger proportion of the total city budget. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the increased police budget is irresponsible or even unreasonable. It’s every bit as possible that it simply reflects the fact that the rest of the city budget may not be increasing as it should be. You may not want to hear that, but it doesn’t mean that it isn’t true.

What may not be sustainable, is local government’s ability to shoulder the cost so long as it is dependent upon the outdated property tax system. But Mr. Sher makes no effort to remind us of that fact.

Mr. Sher quotes Police Chief Faulkner as saying that “Policing is very expensive.” Well, I’d like to remind Mr. Sher and London City Council that not policing is even more expensive. The cost which would result from increased violence and property crimes would make current expenditures pale in comparison.

It’s been 6 years since I appeared before City Council’s Community & Protective Services Committee to argue for increased police funding (when nobody else was), but my position has not changed since then. Read the transcript HERE.

The real focus needs to continue to be on funding of municipalities. I addressed the audience during Jay Stanford’s recent Waste Diversion Open House at Laurier S.S. when their understandable upset over rising property tax increases inappropriately manifested itself in a criticism of the perceived cost of environmental initiatives. Here is my recollection of what I said…

In the beginning, before money even existed, the way that people measured their wealth was in land, and the ability of that land to produce crops and sustain livestock. We were an overwhelmingly rural society. Then, as now, there was a need to collect from citizens a share of those costs which were incurred for the whole community. Those taxes were in the form of potatoes, corn, goats, etc. Over the years, property tax has fulfilled it’s purpose for local communities pretty well. But we have made a transition from a rural society to a predominantly urban one. And that trend continues. The property tax system is now broken. It can no longer support all of the costs which city dwellers place upon it. There needs to be a new revenue source for cities. Federal and provincial governments do not suffer the same problem. They have multiple ways in which to raise revenue. The federal government has been awash in our taxdollars for quite some time. Year after year it declares surplus budgets. The fiscal health of the provinces is not so clear-cut, because of the convoluted transfer payments between each, division of responsibilities, etc. But one unmistakable fact remains – provinces has the ability to raise more revenue whenever they need to. Recently, the City of Toronto was given some special new powers as a result of it’s continued budget deficits and advocacy. But other cities have not been treated as fairly. If citizens want to bemoan the seemingly continuous increase in their property taxes, and I fully understand their angst, they must start to appreciate who the real villians are. Don’t moan and groan at City Hall. Take your frustration out on the MPPs and MPs who deserve it. Tell them that we need and demand a New Deal. One that will sustain our changed lifestyle instead of pitting us one against the other.

Submitted 2008/02/04 5:15 a.m. to the London Free Press as a ‘Point of View’ along with this restriction:
Please view my original post ( 2008/02/04/jonathan-shers-police-budget-half-truth/) and consider publishing it unedited as a POV. If you have reasons for editing it, I am willing to discuss that possibility, but will not surrender that right to you without justification. Submission of this article DOES NOT imply such consent.

Other Links:
2008/02/12 – Ottawa Citizen: Tax land, not homes
2008/02/12 – Globe & Mail: Miller Plays Politics

A Good Year?

January 15, 2008

Sgt. Thomas O’Brien is quoted as saying It was an absolutely fantastic year on the roads (‘Car crashes down in 2007‘; Joe Belanger; LFP; 2008/01/15).

And then the article tells us Pedestrians were involved in 236 collisions, a 12-per-cent increase.

Click HERE to watch a YouTube video and listen to the Kingston Trio sing “It was a very good year.”

Now click HERE to re-read my post about the lack of concern exhibited by The London Free Press about pedestrian safety in this community.

If that’s not enough, click HERE to re-read my post about the absence of pedestrian stats reporting at City Hall and LPS.

Don’t allow yourself to be misled.

Keeping Watch on SpeedWatch

December 23, 2007

Acc. to the Mayor of the City of Pickering, “We’ve been looking at technologies, this one [a new integrated, solar-powered LED radar board] is very cost-effective and low maintenance and I think it will work well” (‘Pickering cracks down with high-tech radar‘; Toronto 24 Hrs; 2007/12/23).

The solar-powered boards “can run for up to three days before recharging and require zero electricity” and the Pickering project’s [startup?] cost was reported to have been $15,000.

Although Mike Pelzowski (Coordinator, Traffic Operations; City of Pickering) didn’t provide any financial detail in his 2007/12/27 email to me, he did identify that the manufacturer of the radar board is Dorman Varitext.

This is interesting… Pickering has something it calls a Neighbourhood Traffic Watch Program. Residents use a speed display board to “track and record all vehicles traveling in excess of 10 km/hr above the maximum speed limit…for a minimum of two hours a day for a consecutive five day period.”

photoIt’s been almost 2 years since Sgt. Tom O’Brien told me that LPS only had a single SpeedWatch trailer to deploy, so I thought that this would be a good time to revisit the file. I’ve sent the Sgt. an info request and I’ll update this post for you if I get a reply.

Appended 2008/08/20: No reply so far 😦

Pedestrian Stats Noticeably Absent

November 28, 2007

Q: How often have pedestrians been struck by hit/run drivers in London ?
A: At least twice within the past week.

Don’t blink or you’ll miss it… a brief mention in today’s paper (“Police seek hit and run info“; London Free Press; 2007/11/28) about “a girl” who sustained “minor” injuries last Wednesday evening after she was “knocked down by a dark-coloured station wagon” which then left the scene. And of another female who was “thrown onto the hood” of “a four-door, white Honda Civic” on Saturday afternoon. In both cases, the operators of the automobiles left without identifying themselves. Presumably that means that they left before police arrived.

    Appended 2007/11/30 @ 21:00I just revisited the LPS website and … quelle surprise! … there’s now a “Media Releases” link on the main page pointing to a brand new page (which isn’t dated) all about these recent vehicle/pedestrian incidents and the driver’s “legal obligation” to identify themself before leaving the scene. It seems I may have caught somebody’s attention 😉

As short on information as the newspaper article may be, it puts the London Police Services website to shame. Because there’s no mention of these incidents at all on it’s “Media Releases” page. Or on it’s “Wanted” page. Or on it’s “FYI” page. In fact, when I typed “pedestrian” into the search facility on the LPS website, I got a sum total of only 8 articles. One of those (2006/03/23 LPS Board Minutes) refers to “statistical information on Pedestrian Safety” that had been presented by Sgt. Tom O’Brien, but does not provide those stats.

So, how often do incidents involving automobiles and pedestrians happen in London? If we can’t get that information from the police website, perhaps we can get it from our elected officials.

Yeah, right ;(

I’ve been fighting for such disclosure for many years.Plod on, dear reader…


Off-campus Student Conduct Codes

November 22, 2007

It seems that the Police Service Board rejected Councillor Bernie MacDonald’s proposal at it’s meeting last week, preferring to ask that UWO and Fanshawe apply their student codes of conduct off-campus (read more: ‘Police Board wants off-campus code‘; Mike Hayes; The Gazette; 2007/11/22).

2007/11/28 – The Gazette: Police hitting the streets…

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High-Risk Policing

June 12, 2007

Former Judge George Ferguson was retained in November 2001 by Toronto’s Police Chief. His report was completed in January 2003 and subsequently made public in March 2004. In it, the former Judge recommended drug testing, psychological testing and financial background checks on police officers in defined high risk positions. However, according to the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition in January 2005, Toronto Police Association President Dave Wilson was said to oppose those recommendations as being “fundamentally unacceptable to our members” and as having indicated that they would be challenged by the Association “at every level.”

In the wake of the recent tragedy involving Dave Lucio and Kelly Johnson, I’m interested to know whether these recommendations have ever been adopted by London Police Services. I’ll try to find out and let you know.

Enforcement, not Posturing

January 23, 2006

Project SpeedwatchThe Speedwatch radar trailer is deployed by officers from the Auxiliary Police Section in various areas of the City where chronic speeding violations have been reported. By informing the motoring public of both their current speed and the posted speed limit, the Speedwatch sign is both a public education program and a deterrent.

Despite all of the concerns that I have expressed about pedestrian safety along this stretch of Commissioners Road East, there has been no noticeable response from London Police Services. With one exception. When a 12-year-old C. C. Carrothers public school pupil was struck while crossing the Commissioners & Pond Mills intersection in early November, Sgt. Tom O’Brien appeared on A-Channel, standing beside the Speedwatch trailer that had been quickly located at Commissioners & King Edward. Speedwatch was then removed, almost as soon as the tv cameras were turned off. And it hasn’t been back again since then.

But according to Sgt. Tom O’Brien, “The London Police Service has one Speedwatch trailer. It is utilized throughout the entire city dependant upon weather conditions and personnel availability.”

So, am I being unfair to police? I remain steadfast in my belief that there is a serious lack of enforcement in London and that pedestrians are consequently being put at unnecessary risk. But who’s to blame? Police, for not buying/using more of these trailers? Or City Hall, for underfunding police so much that they can’t afford the equipment and/or personnel?

My Public Response to Councillor Winninger

April 9, 2003

Emailed to Councillor Winninger earlier today:

Having viewed the latest broadcast of Politically Speaking, and having heard your question about London Police Services that “God knows, they probably need the extra constables, but can we afford all this?” I would make these observations.

Vehicle/pedestrian accidents are increasing in this community, most recently the one at Dundas & Richmond streets. I first warned in my letter to you dated 2001/01/24 that, without intervention, we would soon begin to copy the Toronto experience. Specifically, I wrote:

“I have charged (and will continue to do so) that it is only a matter of time, probably sooner rather than later, before people start dying because of vehicle-pedestrian accidents.”

Despite my letter to you dated October 6, 2002 with respect to the potentially near-fatal incident involving my grandson, and despite your verbal declaration following my 2002/10/15 presentation to the CAPS Committee that you would soon be in contact, there has been no repsonse from you.

David, I believe that you and other members of City Council, London Police Services and members of the London Police Services Board, and local provincial politicians, do have blood on your collective hands.


Greg Fowler.

Police Accessibility

September 28, 2002

According to it’s web site, “The London Police Service is seeking your input to assist us in formulating our next 3 year Business Plan for 2004-2006…We need to hear from you, the citizens of our community, as to what issues are important, and where our resources should be placed to provide an effective and efficient police service.”

Strange then, that it’s web site doesn’t contain any email links for those citizens who may wish to express their opinion.

Community meetings have been set up, but how much opportunity will there be for debate?

A survey will be mailed out, but only to a small number of citizens, who purportedly will be randomly selected. Will a copy of the survey also be provided to those citizens who have already indicated their dissatisfaction, so that they can further express their objections? Who will process those surveys, and will the results be made public in a timely fashion?

Based on my own personal experience, London Police Services is not interested in admitting it’s shortcomings. Citizens who make complaints are more likely to be treated with disdain and insult, rather than the respect which they deserve.

London’s Police Chief needs to come clean about the severe manpower shortage here in London. But more than that, he needs to be honest about the impact that it has had on law enforcement and officer response for the past several years. He has to admit that part of the blame for underfunding is his, because only “a very modest increase” was requested during the last budget presentation.

Members of London’s council also need to admit culpability. In response to the opportunity for participation during the budget process, I did express an opinion that the Police budget needed to be significantly increased. Since then, I have made numerous written submissions to various members of Council. To this date, there has not been a single response.

My request for information about the Police Chief’s Advisory Council have been rejected. Who are these people who have the ear of the Police Chief and influence policy? Why does the Police Chief refuse to identify them or answer questions about the Council?

Why does the Police Services Board operate in secrecy? Why are citizens denied the opportunity to make presentations, as I have been?

Why has the downtown business association had such success in having the Safe Streets Act enforced, while ordinary citizens such as myself are ignored when we call for the equitable enforcement of other laws?

Supt. Brad Duncan is quoted in The Londoner (2002/09/19) as saying that “a select group of individuals from the consultations are invited back to review the final version” (of their business plan).

And that’s the problem. This community belongs to all of us, and simply engaging in a phoney PR exercise at budget time isn’t going to cut it.


February 12, 2002

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).