General News

Shelburne officially transitions to OPP

February 25, 2021   ·   0 Comments

Written By Paula Brown

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

It was a day marked with mixed emotions, as the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officially took over responsibilities of policing in Shelburne last Thursday (Feb. 18).

“On one hand we’re saying good bye to an institution that’s proudly and bravely served our community for 142 years and that’s always going to be a difficult moment to get through,” said Shelburne Mayor Wade Mills. “But, looking to the future I think we as a community can be pretty optimistic about what to expect.” 

Last July, Shelburne Town Council voted unanimously in favour of bringing OPP into the community, disbanding the Shelburne Police Service (SPS) who have policed the town for 141 years. At the time of the decision, Mayor Mills said it was no longer financially sustainable to maintain the municipal force. 

Shelburne Town Council, in early 2020, asked for a second costing proposal after initial voting to keep the local force. An estimated annual budget for the first three years of the transition contract with OPP is $2.85 million, plus a one-time start-up fee of $417,913 for uniforms, vehicles and equipment, bringing first-year costs to approximately $3.2 million. 

All officers from the Shelburne Police Service who applied for a position with the OPP were hired on. 

“We’re going to be seeing the same familiar faces back in town, just in different uniforms. I think that the community can certainly take some comfort in that,” said Mills. 

“They’re going to be supported and backed up by a huge organization with all the financing and all the resources that come with that. It’s the kind of resources that we just could not afford to provide them as a municipality.”  

Dufferin OPP Detachment Commander Insp. Terry Ward, OPP Staff Sgt. Anton Jelich, and Mayor Wade Mills, on Thursday, to mark the official transition walked along the main street of Shelburne. 

“It’s familiarization, but it’s also just visibility,” said Ward about the significance of the walk. “We want to make sure that the citizens of Shelburne realize that the OPP is now the policing service in town and moving forward the expectation is going to be a high level of visibility.” 

Joining the group was Dufferin OPP Detachment Const. Bruce Lemcke, whose father Carman Lemcke was Chief of Police in Shelburne from 1956 to 1993. 

“It was heartwarming to be able to walk the same streets as my dad did,” said Const. Lemcke. 

The now former SPS officers will be attending the OPP academy in Orillia over the next two weeks. Insp. Ward said a schedule has been established with officers from the Dufferin Detachment and the surrounding area to continue policing while the local officers are off being trained. 

Const. Lemcke, who does foot patrol and community service in Orangeville, said part of his duties will be to patrol in town over the next two weeks. 

“Having somebody like Bruce, who is a known entity in the Town, lives in Shelburne, was born and raised here, having him kind of be the ambassador off the bat is helpful. One of the concerns that was expressed by the community was the personal touch we’ve grown used to may be lost and it’ll be a faceless, nameless police service,” said Mills. “Well, day one here is somebody we all know as a neighbour, I think that goes a long way in instilling confidence in the communities, that personal, local connection is still going to be maintained.” 

Dufferin County will now entirely be policed under the OPP. Ongoing investigations will become part of the OPP case files.

Residents can contact the OPP for non-emergency reasons at 1-888-310-1122, and for emergencies use 9-1-1. 



         

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