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Residents weigh options on the future of policing in Oxford


Final decision to be made January of 2020

OXFORD, N.S. – Input into the future of policing in the town of Oxford was provided to residents who attended the Policing Service Review public meeting at the Capitol Theatre on Nov. 27.

“We had some really good suggestions and comments,” said Oxford deputy mayor Rick Draper immediately following the meeting. “And having the RCMP and the Amherst Town Police here, it was helpful for them to get a better understanding of what the community expects of them.”

The RCMP police the town of Oxford. The number of hours they accumulate is equal to having three full-time officers on duty.

Policing takes up 20 per cent of the town’s budget, and they are looking at three future options; remain with the RCMP, remain with the RCMP with reduced services, or seek an alternative provider.

“If we choose to go with an alternative provider it has to be somebody who is qualified and approved by the department of justice. It can’t be rent-a-cops,” Draper said.

During the meeting, it was pointed out that rumours have been circulating that the Amherst Police Department might start policing Oxford but that rumour was neither confirmed or denied at the meeting

Another resident said he heard a rumour that town has already issued a Request For Proposal (RFP) and received a response from the APD.

“We have not asked anybody for a proposal and no proposals have been issued to us,” Draper said. “We’re still developing the requirements for policing services in the town. Once that’s done, it will be done through a formal process.”

About 35 people attended the meeting, and one thing that was certain is most residents who spoke had high praise for the level of policing the RCMP provide and would like to see it remain at current levels or increased.

Nicole Anderson is a paramedic at the EHS base in Oxford. Currently living in Kolbec, she lived in Oxford for 13 years.

She has two children with special needs. They used to go to school in Oxford but now go to school in Springhill and Amherst.

She said the RCMP in Oxford developed a strong relationship with her kids.

“When they were 10-years-old they were joking with them and putting them in handcuffs just so they could have a good relationship,” Anderson said. “If you know my kids you’ll understand why that was really significant. I can’t speak highly enough about these guys.”

Also, as a paramedic, Anderson often deals with police and said the RCMP are highly respected.

Another resident who spoke at the meeting, but wished to remain anonymous, also had high praise for the RCMP.

“I think getting rid of the RCMP would be horrific,” she said. “It would be a travesty to see the RCMP gone.”

What happens next? On Dec. 3, the Town of Oxford Police Service Review Committee will develop a list of service levels based on feedback from the public meeting.

A final decision will be made when the committee reports to town council in January of 2020.

“It will be a decision of town council. There’s a number of options we may choose. There’s no intended outcome,” Draper said to the people in attendance. “We just want to hear from you to find out what it is we should be doing and understand better what is expected by the residents of the town.”

If they do decide to seek an alternative provider they will need to issue the RFP, and all provincial procurement rules will need to be followed.

“Nothing will happen unless it’s approved by the minister of justice,” Draper said.

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