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The Cobourg Police Services Board holds regular meetings and the minutes that are available for the public are posted on the Town of Cobourg Civic Web Portal.

Please be patient as minutes must be vetted before we add them to the portal.

Should you need past minutes that are not available on the portal, feel free to email cpsb@cobourg.ca.

October Board Meeting Introductory Message - Chair Dean Pepper:

Good morning. This morning’s agenda is very full including our delegation from the United Way who we welcome, so I will keep my comments brief.

First, I would like to thank the Board for making the personal time to attend last week’s Ontario Association of Police Services Boards Labour Seminar. The conference was highly informative in keeping the Board and Chief abreast of current and emerging issues and approaches within policing in Ontario which is crucial to ensure we are governing with current and complete information on both facts and trends.

Of keen interest was the update on content and estimated timing on the Comprehensive Ontario Police Services Act- 2019- Bill68. This particular Act outlines the legislative framework of the Police Services Boards and the Police Services in making sure communities are receiving effective policing services in efficient and modernized manners. Associated regulations are currently under development and we anticipate completion through 2021.  In the interim, we expect to fully participate with a key element of the pending legislation-that being the municipal development of a comprehensive Community Safety and Well Being Plan. This is to be driven by the Municipality, or in this case the municipality of the County of Northumberland, in consultation and collaboration with all groups across the County that contribute to safer communities.

We are pleased that the revised Act recognizes that safe communities are not solely a policing responsibility,
although obviously, the Cobourg Police Service along with other local services play an integral and important role.

Other highlights from the conference included information on new police labour legislation; updates on the labour relations landscape across the Province; new analytic tools to optimize workforce health as well as multiple sessions and plenaries on improving mental health in police services.  It was also a great opportunity to meet Board members from other policing systems and hear and share best practices and approaches which might be considered in enhancing the effectiveness of Ontario’s Police Services Boards.

In addition to the Conference, Board members have been active in preparing for our submission of the 2020 budget request to the Town of Cobourg, within their timing protocols and in line with Board philosophies on prudent use of public funds; and our various agreements including our established Memorandum of Understanding which outlines our use of discretionary funds as generated from our Business Services proceeds. The Board will address the proposed budget this morning and will deliberate on whether we are satisfied it meets our legislated duty of providing efficient police services while also staging for innovation in policing and safer communities.

Also-thank you to Vice Chair Ron Kerr who has worked on policy development this month. This morning we will review an amended Policy outlining the Board’s Procedure Policies Manual which is specific to Board activity.   Next month I expect we will review the proposed Financial Policy. Policy development is integral to our role in leading, governing and directing the Service within the values important to stakeholders. Generally, the Board’s policies provide the written direction from which the Chief can operationalize and make the needed decisions in quick and
efficient manners. I encourage the Board to always review carefully to make sure your perspectives and values are clear.

Finally, on behalf of the Board I would like to commend the Chief and his team for the outstanding information shared at the public open house of September 18th.  Community feedback has been both productive and positive and I hope that we continue to engage more and more of our stakeholders in future open houses as planned. Listening and sharing with the community only increases our success in keeping our community safe by working for and with both the community at large and other partners.

Launched that night was the Chief’s new and ambitious initiative named “Keep it Close”.  The “Keep it Close” project recognizes that many social challenges contribute to crime including homelessness and addictions. As a result, Chief VandeGraaf and his team are evaluating best practises in addressing these community issues while working in
partnership with others. It’s preliminary, but we can expect in the near future a robust program, fully customized for the needs of this community.

Chief, we commend you for your leadership and in particular for having caught the imagination and interest of national CBC radio where the Cobourg Police Service and the “Keep it Close” initiative were featured-–for some length-- during a CBC broadcast of October 10th.

This morning we have a delegate from the United Way. So, in the interest of time, I
suggest we get started. Welcome.

September Board Meeting Introductory Message - Chair Dean Pepper:


Good morning. I’d like to start this morning by highlighting a few events and accomplishments since we met in August.
First, on behalf of the Board, I want to again congratulate Chief of Police Paul VandeGraaf for his formal appointment on August 15.

I consider that day a “defining moment” for the Cobourg Police Service. One that determines all subsequent approaches to community safety. Community safety, both real and perceived, is not just about crime prevention. It’s about connecting, engaging and working with our many community partners to deliver solutions and solve problems together. The issues are complex and the stakes are high. For that reason public scrutiny should be expected, and in fact, welcomed as we move forward. Together we can reap the benefits of public awareness of our activities and continue to instill a culture that welcomes challenge and deliberate thought and action in delivering effective public services in response to community need.

Chief VandeGraaf’s leadership skills and strong vision poises the Cobourg Police Service to address all of these challenges, and frankly I am personally excited about the possibilities we have to work together in continuing to evolve the Service and not just meet but rather exceed the expectations of our community, partners and stakeholders.

In terms of public engagement, I would like to remind the Board, and audience, of tomorrow night’s Community Meeting being held here at Venture13 at 7:00 p.m. This is our second public information session where we are providing citizens the opportunity to be engaged in policing services; be kept informed in open and transparent manners on our approaches and progress; and finally to hear and gain public input. It’s also a good chance for the public to meet the new Chief, his senior team and the Board and I look forward to the opportunity provided to listen and respond to community voice.

One short term challenge that has arisen is the resignation of our communications officer. We wish Ms. Debattista well on her personal path and thank her for her service. During her time at CPS we were able to increase communications with the community, and I know the Chief has plans for that to continue. Public relations are integral to building strong relationships with our public and stakeholders; building trust, confidence and understanding. These are the over-arching goals of our communication plan which was expected to come before the Board this month but will now be slightly delayed.

I want to note today’s agenda includes an update on the financial side of the Service and I want to congratulate the Chief and Board for your fiscal stewardship. We’re in good shape on our budget which I think important to highlight since we have fiduciary responsibility to taxpayers to make sure we are managing public funds with a disciplined eye to delivering policing services in the most cost effective manner possible.

The Municipality has advanced the 2020 budgeting process and we will be submitting initial 2020 budget requests before next month’s Board meeting. We can talk today about proposed next steps for gaining Board input and approval prior to that submission.  In preparation, I would encourage the Board to think about the major advancements you would like to see rolling forward in 2020. The budget will be a numerical reflection of what it takes to ensure CPS is fully resourced with people, technology and resulting capacity to deliver the best public safety services for the Cobourg community- adequately and effectively.

It is our goal to provide the best service possible at the lowest public cost, and I encourage us to develop the budget on the principles of transparency, affordability and sustainability.  Concurrently, we should be working within the framework of our agreement with the Town of Cobourg and making those investments behind innovation that are integral to staging and modernizing our core services. Innovations that will help us long term to deliver superior services in helping to keep our officers and community safe.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge the Board for your ongoing involvement and presence at various events over the last few weeks- in particular Vice Chair Ron Kerr who has stepped in for me at different sessions while I was out of the country. The Board’s continued involvement with the community is important for gaining public perspective and I think it important to remain accessible and open to hearing public voice. Thank you.

This morning we have a community delegation which we look forward to hearing. Welcome to all.


August Board Meeting Introductory Message - Chair Dean Pepper:

Good morning.  I would like to start my comments this morning by highlighting and sharing some of the several changes and accomplishments that have happened since last month’s session of July 16th.

Perhaps most significant in terms of its impact going forward is that –on July 26th -the Board publicly announced its acceptance of the resignation of Chief Kai Liu from his position as Chief of Police of the Cobourg Police Services.  Kai has retired from Ontario policing systems though has moved on to a similar position with a First Nation self-administered police force-Treaty Three.  We wish him well and will join him and his family later this month for an appreciation function being held Tuesday August 27th at 6pm in the Baxter Lounge upstairs here at Venture13.

Also on July 26th and as a direct result of Chief Liu stepping down, the Board was pleased to publicly announce the appointment of former Deputy Chief Paul VandeGraaf as Chief Designate.  Both of these decisions were made during the July 16th Board meeting although we weren’t able to share that news for a few more days out of respect for the decision processes of the Treaty Three organization.

Under the Police Services Act, the Board is charged with the duty of appointing a Chief and within that authority ….and with confidence in Paul VandeGraaf…… has done so.  

Chief Designate VandeGraaf will be sworn in as Chief of Police during a community gathering on the afternoon of August 15th and we welcome the community at large to such a significant milestone in his career. 

Although I’ve said this before through media releases-I think it important to reiterate today that the appointment of Chief of Police Designate Paul VandeGraaf speaks to the strong succession plan the service had in place.   The Board considered it a sound business practice to have a forward thinking approach and smooth transition of leadership that allows stability in the organization versus uncertainty.   In fact, I think many if not most have the practice of promoting from within like more recently-Kingston, Cornwall, Belleville, Smith Falls, North Bay, Sarnia, Strathroy, Port Hope and now most recently…..Cobourg.   A succession plan is a best practice.

This plan has been in place for several years with Chief Designate VandeGraaf  having been actively cross-trained-making sure he had the proper experience to prepare him for his responsibilities to lead and further evolve the organization.   Multiple training, outreach and professional development opportunities-–all of which Paul VandeGraaf embraced and ultimately excelled.

This includes strategic planning for both core services and our distinct corporate services division…… operational responsibility to prepare and deliver annual budgets which he did successfully with operational expenses being maintained at or below inflation……driving change and efficiencies while designing and adopting new methods and approaches that have resulted in a far more community-focused delivery with innovation in policing at the forefront of his drive.

In addition, he has been very involved in leading our Corporate Services division into a true social enterprise. One that applies innovative business strategies to maximize improvements in financial, social, and environmental well-being for others. This division provides us unparalleled flexibility to invest back into innovation both within the business unit itself as well as innovation in core policing services and community safety.  The non-taxation revenue generated poises our service to reinvest in contemporary technologies and systems …..Advancing us rapidly forward while minimizing the financial burden on tax-payers.   It is the synchronization of both divisions that ensures the viability of “small town” policing in response to our community’s changing needs.

The Board is pleased that Paul accepted the challenge to lead the service and we’re confident he will ensure we meet our goals in protecting and serving the community with quality policing. Paul has proven over time that he has a clear understanding of our vision and approaches every situation with the service’s mission in mind. The Board has absolute confidence Chief of Police Designate VandeGraaf will continue to take our service to the next level.

Again, we invite the community to also attend his swearing in ceremony that affirms his position on August 15th.  Paul, I will say that many in the community have reached out to myself and other Board members to express their unbridled delight in you having assumed the leadership of the Cobourg Police Service and we look forward to working closely with you to continue to evolve the service forward.

Perhaps not as major news……but certainly important …….I would like to mention a few other items this morning.

First…….the Board members have continued their orientation sessions via “ride alongs” with Cobourg Police constables.  The majority of Board members have now ridden alongside our officers as they executed their duties.  I thank the Board members for your ongoing interest and dedication to executing your governance duties with such enthusiasm. I think all of these events happened during late evening or overnight shifts where Board members experienced what officers do.  It’s such an important opportunity to understand the work and realities of the front line while also providing a direct communication pipe-line from the officers to the Board.  Generally, what we have seen is high quality policing with officers firmly dealing with a variety of situations with compassion and excellence. We will be continuing occasional ride alongs as an important strategy for staying abreast of what is happening in the community while providing opportunities for officer voice to be directly heard.

Another event that happened this month was the conclusion of the YMCA and Cobourg Police golf camp.   Working with partners, like the YMCA, is an integral strategy of our community policing philosophies.  Essentially, we support the systemic use of partnerships to proactively be involved with our community ……long before conditions may ever rise that may lead to public safety challenges such as crime, social disorder or even fear of crime.  In this case, working with kids in friendly and fun ways helps to connect our service and policing to positive experiences, thoughts and outcomes.

Another partner event this month was working with Cobourg Canadian Tire to increase awareness of keeping our youth safe while on their bicycles.  If an officer saw a child who appeared to be under the age of 16 riding without a helmet-the officer used the chance to talk about the importance of safety while some children received a free helmet.  Canadian Tire safety partnerships are not exclusive to bikes since we have offered multiple car seat clinics earlier in the year.  It’s a great partnership with mutual goals of keeping the community safe. A partnership we hope to continue.

A final major partnership event was the launch of the Cornerstone #shecouldbe campaign where our police leadership was heavily featured as part of the campaign.  Unfortunately, family violence is here in Cobourg.  Taking a stand in working with partners proactively to end or at least mitigate it, is crucial for our community policing model.  Cobourg Police are represented on the Cornerstone Board of Directors and are active in isolating and supporting many opportunities where we can work together to address this important community challenge. 

I was pleasantly surprised to see on Facebook a community comment that said quote “Thank you to the Cobourg Police for being involved in such an important cause. You really are so great at being involved in your community. Such a caring Police Force. God bless you all.”

If you didn’t catch that-let me just point out that I have listened to feedback recently received and have invested personal time to review various social media platforms to make sure I see things for myself rather than just summaries.  While I don’t personally have or post to social media accounts – that doesn’t mean I can’t and don’t observe.

My overall impression is that there is great good that can be done on various social media platforms to make sure the public is well-informed, engaged and positively heard and supported.

At the same time, platforms can be forums for unregulated mistruths, misinformation, little cooperation and minimal civil discourse.  That is unfortunate but is a reality that is outside any Board’s control-any organization.

In our case we are expected to uphold legislation and in fact are legally bound via a myriad of legislation that is not limited to the Ontario Police Act…..Employment and Human Rights……Privacy Legislation……Victims Bill of Rights…..and so on. 

With multiple legislated duties in mind-we are sometimes not able to specifically address what seems …….sometimes ….like targeted misinformation or perhaps even what some consider fear mongering…….while others consider some statements as libelous.  I know I have personally been contacted multiple times from community members who are dismayed at what they perceive to be negative and uncollaborated misinformation.  They question the motive which of course I wouldn’t know.

However, with judgment, I do suggest that we accept the reality of social media platforms in providing opportunity to hear primarily a positive voice from the community and also from ourselves.  We can monitor the negative as important as well.   Community voice –both positive and negative-is to be taken seriously though not personally.  The Board expects to be presented next month with a communication plan by our communications officer and I am sure these kinds of systemic challenges will or should be addressed.

In the interim, I do thank last month’s delegation for inspiring me to take a closer look.   While I don’t intend to open personal accounts I do commit from time to time to personally monitor with respect.  I am also optimistic that respect for the Board and the Cobourg Police Service -its goals, strategies, outcomes and legal duties will also be considered equally important by fair minded and well informed citizens.

And keeping on the theme of well-informed citizens, I want to personally invite the public to our next Community Meeting scheduled for Wednesday September 18th, 7:00 p.m.-Venture13.  Occasional community meetings are included in our current Cobourg Police Services Business Plan and this seems like good timing as we end a busy summer and head into the fall period. This will be our second community information session.  The goal is to provide citizens the opportunity to be kept informed where overall strategies and updates will be shared as a pathway to continued transparency and accountability.  It is also a wonderful opportunity for the general public to meet the new Chief of Police, his senior administration and Board members, providing another opportunity for increased understanding and open, respectful two-way dialogue.

Finally, this morning we have another delegation which I am personally pleased to see.  I think it important for the community to be engaged in community safety.  To care.  While a policing system is not solely responsible for community safety…..which is why we work so closely with multiple partners……..we certainly are integral and community delegations are both encouraged to come to any Board meeting and are welcome.

Certainly it is another chance to hear community voice along with the many others we receive both internally and externally from our officers, civil staff, partners and community at large through a variety of ways.  All of which keep us motivated and inspired to continue to deliver and improve community safety in efficient and effective manners.

This delegation has followed our published policies in providing their presentation in advance and have outlined five specific questions.  Chief Designate VandeGraaf will be addressing most of your questions and we thank you in advance for the opportunity to provide as robust answers as we possibly can. Everyone should be aware though, we are restricted within legislation such as the Police Services Act and the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act in certain areas. Given the amount of misinformation circling, we are not going to withhold any information unless specifically identified by one of the Acts just named.

We appreciate your attendance and the opportunity to hear and address your input as reasonably possible.

Thank you and welcome to all.