By John McPhee
Some members of Brockton’s Police Services Board want public input before council makes any decision on eliminating the school officer.
“If your roof is leaking you might not be able to afford to fix it, but you really can’t not fix it,” Marni Sexton said. “That’s the way I feel about the school officer.”
The board was reacting to vice-chair Chris Peabody’s update on the municipal budget where the PSB budget was reduced about 20 per cent.
Peabody, a Brockton councillor, said that the school officer, who splits his/her time at both Sacred Heart High School and Walkerton District Community School is fully funded by Brockton tax payers and the position is about the “only variable” within the OPP budget for council. Previous attempts by council to get the two school boards to chip in on the $90,000 cost were turned down by trustees at both boards (the province provides a $30,000 provincial grant towards the actual cost of $125,000 for the officer, leaving Brockton carrying the $90,000 remaining, plus whatever increase will be approved for the 2014 contract).
But Sexton stressed the need for safety and security at the schools. “I wouldn’t want to see a tragedy happen because there’s no school officer,” she said. “Stuff like that can happen, not just in the states but in Canada too.”
Council has asked the South Bruce OPP to prepare two budgets for the 2014 year – one with the school officer, one without.
Council also reduced the board’s mileage from $1,920 to $1,500 and conferences and seminars from $5,000 to $3,500.
“Council believes members can take turns, not everyone needs to go,” new board member Mayor David Inglis said.
“You can also share rooms,” Peabody added.
Crime rates up
During Inspector Scott Smith’s report, board member Maurice Donnelly noted that “four of the six (categories) under crime were higher in 2012 than 2011, listing theft under, mischief, break and enter, and drug offences as being higher last year.
Assaults and sexual assaults were down.
Smith’s graph (bar) report showed there were approximately 150 theft under ($5,000) cases last year compared to about 120 in 2011; slightly more than 120 mischief reports (2012) to about 115 (2011); almost 60 B&Es (2012) to just under 40 (2011); and about 60 drug offences (2012) to about 50 (2011).
Smith said that given the large detachment area, it’s hard to predict which crimes will be up or down noting that in Brocton thefts under were down in December, but up in Kincardine.
Smith also said he is “very committed” to creating a safe community policing committee with members of the public involved “to resolve issues we’re dealing with”.
He promised more details in the near future.
Bev Willick was acclaimed the chair of the PSB for the coming year. Peabody will return as vice chair.