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OPP keeps 18 of 21 local police officers

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by Isabel Mosseler

The hiring process for the local detachment of the OPP has been concluded and 18 officers from the WN Police Service have accepted employment with the Ontario Provincial Police, which is set to take over policing in West Nipissing on June 6.

At the May 7 meeting of WN Council, CAO Jay Barbeau indicated that all local officers, save one, had received their notice containing an offer of employment, or none, from the OPP.  He told council, “The last three or four days have been very intense and very emotional. We’re at the stage where the OPP have made their decisions as to which members, civilian and uniformed, will move on… I had the pleasure and honour of working with the Police Chief (Ray St-Pierre) on informing staff members one at a time. As of yesterday, all staff have been informed of their status.”

He could not provide details as to the employment offers, since this is a Human Resources issue, but noted, “It was an emotional time, a weight came off their shoulders as they were informed… From this point on (…) those who accept employment are to report for orientation for 5pm on Sunday, June 9, and start training on June 10. It’s very new and very raw and there is still lots of emotion.” Barbeau said the officers had until Friday, May 10 to decline or accept.

Mayor Joanne Savage indicated her pleasure that all the affected employees had been duly informed, but wanted to know how service would be provided while local officers were gone for training. “They will be using their own officers until the future employees come back. The OPP will be operating with existing officers until ours get their training period,” Barbeau responded. The Mayor also wanted to know when council could expect a presentation regarding “hours of operation, how people will access” the police during the interim. Barbeau reiterated that the OPP was also in the process of hiring a Detachment Commander, who would be the one addressing council’s questions once hired.

On Monday, May 13, Superintendent Marc Bédard of the OPP told the Tribune that  “eighteen of the 21 members of the WNPS were offered employment. Of the 18, all accepted their employment, which is great, 100%! There were four sergeants and one police chief. The four sergeants went to a Rank Level Determination board and were granted their sergeant [rank], receiving the same rank as they had. The chief was offered a staff sergeant position and he accepted that too. I’m really quite happy.”

He would not discuss the three officers who were not offered a position, saying he could neither name them nor provide a reason for the decision. The one WNPS employee who did not receive notice, Barbeau had specified, was not a fully uniformed officer.

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