OPP commish addresses rising police costs

An Ontario Provincial Police cruiser sits on a near a highway in Belleville, Ont., in this Jan. 16,...

An Ontario Provincial Police cruiser sits on a near a highway in Belleville, Ont., in this Jan. 16, 2013 file photo. (QMI Agency files)

Jennifer O'Brien, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:02 PM ET

LONDON, Ont. — Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Chris Lewis says a new billing model may help even out the high police costs plaguing many rural Ontario communities.

Lewis made the comments Monday during a live online chat hosted by the London Free Press.

A number of Ontarians, including Cochrane Mayor Peter Politis, joined the chat to question Lewis about police costs.

"This is a hot topic everywhere, because it is a real threat to our viability," Politis said."The trends had been going in the wrong direction.”

Throughout the hour-long discussion the mayor and the commissioner debated how much control municipalities should have in policing communities and what kind of bang-for-buck Ontarians are getting with OPP service.

Though many in Ontario's 324 OPP-serviced communities have said they feel handcuffed, forced to pay for a service whose bills are determined by the province without input from municipalities, Lewis assured there's movement afoot to reduce costs — other than salary, which makes up 85% of the OPP budget.

The first step is a new billing model proposed by the OPP that would equalize the base cost of having OPP service. It's now uneven and complicated, but the new system would result in some towns paying much more and others much less.

"Once again, hard for us to win," he said, defending what some see as overstaffing in communities.

"Too many officers ... cost is too much and people complain. Not enough, people never see a cop and criminals don't either."

jennifer.obrien@sunmedia.ca

Here is a recap of the chat:


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