Public meetings on policing begin Thursday in Parrsboro
Cumberland County’s review of its policing services will take another step later this week with the first of five public engagement sessions in five communities.
The first meeting is set for Thursday, Sept. 8, at the Parrsboro Fire Department with additional meetings on Thursday, Sept. 15, at the Dr. Carson & Marion Murray Community Centre; Monday, Sept. 19, at the Pugwash Fire Department; Monday, Sept. 26, at the E.D. Fullerton Municipal Building in Upper Nappan and Tuesday, Sept. 27, at the River Hebert community centre, located in the former Brookside Curling Club.
All meetings are from 4 to 6 p.m. except for the meeting in River Hebert on the 27th, which runs from noon to 2 p.m.
In April, council approved a motion to conduct a review of policing options, including a review of the current delivery of policing services in the community, identify any alternate service providers and to identify options for the delivery of policing services.
The municipality established a review committee in May appointing councillors Rod Gilroy, Kathy Redmond, Carrie Goodwin and Mark Joseph and citizen representatives John Alderson, Richard Williamson, Mark Murdock and Doug Bacon along with Mayor Murray Scott and CAO Greg Herrett and Hayley Crichton from the Department of Justice.
The review committee recommended a public engagement process be followed and in August Narrative Research of Halifax was hired to facilitate this process and report back to the committee in early October. The process includes five public meetings, an online survey and one-on-one stakeholder meetings as well as social media, radio and newspaper advertising.
“There are five public participation sessions that will be held throughout the month of September with Parrsboro being the first,” Mayor Murray Scott said. “What we’re asking is for people to come and share with us what they believe policing should look like in their community, how they think police should interact with people, their visibility and where they should put their emphasis.”
After the final public meeting, the police services review committee will reconvene to consider the information provided by Narrative Research and has the option of moving forward with a request for proposals from service providers.
The mayor said he expects the committee to be able to submit a recommendation to council this fall.Scott said the review is not being driven by finances, although the municipality estimates it will spend more than $5.1 million on policing in 2022-23. He said it’s about service.
“Policing is a very expensive service to provide, whether it’s through a municipal department or the RCMP,” Scott said. “But, as we know in our communities, it’s probably one of the most important services we can provide in our communities. While we’re always cognizant of the cost, the level of service is of the utmost importance to us a council and that’s why we want to ensure the level of service we provide to our communities is the best we can provide for the tax dollars we spend.”
The mayor said it’s very important for the public to participate in either the public meetings and/or the online survey.
“It’s one thing for eight people on the committee and myself to share our own thoughts and it’s fine for council to make a decision, but we believe it’s vital for citizens to come to these meetings and tell us what they expect,” Scott said. “It’s important for them to share their thoughts so we can formulate what the future may look like for policing in Cumberland County.”