With more officers considering leaving the service and upcoming retirements, the Timmins Police Association (TPA) is worried there soon won't be enough officers to answer calls.
The association is asking the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC) to "address the reality that citizens of Timmins are no longer receiving adequate levels of policing in any area, which in turn is creating real public and officer safety concerns."
The OCPC is a third-party agency that can conduct investigations and resolve disputes about the oversight and provision of policing services.
At a meeting on Nov. 14, 91.5 per cent of Timmins Police Association members voted to ask the OCPC for help to address the staffing crisis and public and officer safety concerns that come with it.
“For the past couple of years the police service has relied on our members working unsustainable hours of overtime and depleting other key specialized units in order to maintain effective policing levels. With retention still being a huge issue and our members being exhausted and overworked for far too long, there simply aren’t enough resources to effectively police this community any longer," said Luc Lamarche, association president, in a news release.
Over the weekend, Chief Dan Foy announced his retirement. He had been in the position for less than two years.
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"The reasons that have fueled the retention crisis arose far before newly retired Chief Daniel Foy took office and it is not believed that his departure alone will mitigate further officers from leaving," reads the association's news release.
With the sudden retirement, Henry Dacosta is the acting chief and Darren Dinel is the acting deputy chief. Dacosta has been deputy chief since 2018. Dinel is currently an inspector at the service.
In 2023, at least eight officers have resigned from Timmins Police, and one long-time constable also retired earlier this year.
A recruitment incentive offering cash for experienced officers failed to attract people to the service earlier this year. The incentive was recently relaunched, with one officer qualifying for it so far.
Over the last couple of years, the association says it's worked with the police services board and administration but the efforts haven't delivered the necessary outcomes.
“The TPA has been sounding the alarm bells with both the board and administration for the past couple of years and we are frustrated with the lack of urgency this personnel crisis has been given," said Lamarche.
Several officers are still looking to leave the municipal service, says the association, and there are impending retirements in 2024. Because of this, the association is worried that even with the recruitment efforts, "there soon may not be an officer available when a call for help is made."
“We cannot in good conscience allow ourselves to get to the point where someone calls for help and nobody is available to respond, that is why we are now asking the OCPC for help. The safety of our community and of our members is paramount and is currently gravely at risk," said Lamarche.
The association commends the men and women who have been professional in providing "the best possible policing to the community".
“Both our uniform and civilian members have been stretched to their limits and yet have maintained the best level of service possible for this community. We truly appreciate the support received from the public and hope that support remains as we attempt to get further assistance for both the community and our members," said Lamarche.