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Municipality sets dates, locations for policing meetings

The Municipality of Cumberland has announced the dates and locations for a series of public meetings relating to a police review it announced back in the spring.

Meetings will be held Thursday, Sept. 8, at the Parrsboro Fire Department; Thursday, Sept. 15, at the Dr. Carson & Marion Murray Community Centre in Springhill; Monday, Sept. 19, at the Pugwash Fire Department; and Monday, Sept. 26, at the E.D. Fullerton Municipal Building in Upper Nappan.

All meetings are from 4 to 6 p.m.

Council has hired Narrative Research of Halifax to lead the public engagement portion of the police review in the county. It will engage the public through a series of public meeting, an online survey, a dedicated page on the municipal website as well as stakeholder meetings, media releases, social media and print and radio.

“We established a police review committee on instructions from municipal council that committee has met to set up the public engagement. We’re going to have meetings in Pugwash, Parrsboro, Springhill and Upper Nappan and we’re really encouraging people to talk to us about what their expectations are for policing in their communities,” Cumberland County Mayor Murray Scott said.

Scott said the review committee also wants to hear what residents have to say about the policing services they want, how visible they expect police to be in their communities, what level of community involvement they expect from police and what are their expectations regarding response times.

“We want to hear what people have to say about their expectations and priorities are when it comes to policing,” the mayor said. “We’ve hired a company to compile the input from the public meetings and it’s going to conduct an online survey. What we hear from the meetings and the survey will go back to the committee which explore the options.”

The mayor said one of the options could be to issue a request for proposals to provide policing services within the Municipality of Cumberland.

Scott said the review is not about money, although the policing budget is continuing to climb.

For council and county residents it’s about services being offered and visibility.

“People have concerns about visibility and response times. It’s something I’ve heard a lot from people throughout Cumberland County,” the mayor said. “Other councillors have had those same comments, phone calls and emails. This is not about criticizing the RCMP, but it’s prudent for council, amid these concerns, to go through this process and hear what the community has to say about the level of service they’re receiving.”

In 2021-22, the municipality paid just over $4.7 million for policing while in 2022-23 it has budgeted $5.17 million.