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August Board Summary

The Cobourg Police Services Board held their board meeting on August 13, 2019 at Venture 13. It was attended by 12 public members, two members of Cobourg Police Service and four news outlets.

The Cobourg Police Services Board meeting started with Chair Dean Pepper sharing some of the changes and accomplishments since their last meeting in July. Because this board meeting was attended by so many, the Chair felt it was great opportunity to speak to the attendees about the successes that he has seen within the service.

The Chair touched briefly on the partnership with the Northumberland YMCA in the summer youth golf camp, the #SheCouldBe campaign with Cornerstone Family Violence Prevention Centre, and the bike helmet safety initiative with Cobourg’s Canadian Tire.

“Working with partners, like the YMCA, is an integral strategy of our community policing philosophies,” Chair Pepper states in his introduction.

Chair Pepper spoke of the newly appointed Chief Designate Paul VandeGraaf and his confidence in VandeGraaf’s ability to lead the Cobourg Police Service speaks to the strong succession plan that Cobourg Police Service Board had in place.

You can find the Chair’s full notes here.

The Cobourg Police Services Board received one delegation, Dan Johnston, to speak at this meeting and he provided the board with five questions in advance as per section 16 of the Procedural Policies. The Chair thanked Dan for coming forward and bringing concerns to the board, as this is an important way for the community to be engaged and for the board to hear a community voice regarding the Cobourg Police Service.

The first question was regarding the process of Chief Liu’s departure, and the appointment of Chief Designate VandeGraaf wondering why the community was not more involved in the hiring process of a chief.

The Chair explained the process of hiring a new Deputy Chief and Chief under the Police Services Act, which the board must adhere to, and the appointment of Chief Designate VandeGraaf was a part of a well-thought out succession plan. Johnston, a concerned community member, was pushing for more community involvement in this process and the board members advised him and anyone else who is wanting change, to push for that through the provincial legislation.

The second question is one that has been brought up before by community members and pertains to the number of sworn officers we have in Cobourg at any given time. Chief Designate VandeGraaf explained that with recent approval from the board, the Cobourg Police Service now have a compliment of 35 sworn officers with a minimum of three sworn officers on duty on each shift. This is consistent with other services of this size and does not include the senior members who are on-call 24/7. Chief Designate also stated that the Cobourg Police Service has never replaced a sworn officer with a special constable as asked from Johnston. It was also stressed that auxiliary officers and special constables do not perform the same duties as nor do they replace sworn officers.

A concern was also brought up to the board and Chief Designate regarding Owen Sound dispatch, saying they are unfamiliar with the area of Cobourg and sometimes officers are having to call the person who initiated the 911 call asking for more details on where they’re located. Chief Designate said this was the first time he heard of this but is going to follow up with the Owen Sound dispatch team regarding this complaint. When asked if Cobourg police could bring communications back to the community, VandeGraaf said that this would be a board decision, but his opinion is that Owen Sound provides a very professional dispatch centre and has experienced it personally having to make 9-1-1 calls.

The last question Dan Johnston brought to the board is about the disclosure of Cobourg Police Service legal fees and where they’re allocated. Chief Designate informed him that this is one of those circumstances where the information cannot be released as per the Police Services Act and Municipal Freedom of Information Privacy Act, but the legal fees budgeted for the year is a budget line item that can be found on the Town of Cobourg website.

After the delegation was complete, the board meeting continued to move through its agenda and Inspector Sheils gave the crime report for the month of July. You can see his report and the numbers recorded for the month here in the board package on the Cobourg Civic Web.

Correspondence is always noted in the board meetings and positive things were highlighted to the board. One was the approved funding from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, for the fall Youth in Policing Initiative. The YIPI program will continue in hiring approximately three new students for the fall session. This is a great program getting youth involved in the community and becoming ambassadors for the Cobourg police.

On July 18, 2019 officers responded to Rebound Child and Youth Services regarding a male who had broken a window with a hammer and assaulted another person. Five uniformed officers, a Staff Sergeant and Forensic Identification officer attended as part of the police response to this incident. Cobourg police received a positive thank you from Rebound in their assistance in this and Today’s Northumberland write a positive article on this as well.

Lastly for the public portion of the board meeting, the corporate communications coordinator reported the numbers on media monitoring as well as the communications strategic plan which is inclusive of the website redesign. The plan is being driven by the Cobourg Police Service business plan and surveys that have been collected. The plan will be in the hands of key stakeholders, senior administration and board members, by September 11 and the website redesign will commence in late September.

If anyone has any questions or inquiries on the notes above, please contact, Laurie Debattista, Corporate Communications Coordinator – laurie.debattista@cobourgpolice.com or 905-372-6821 x 2208