Saturday, March 23, 2013

By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday, March 23 2013

Sheriff Glenn Decaire’s Last Stand

It is interesting, and disturbing in some ways, to watch the test of wills between city council and our police. Our elected officials seem set on making it clear they are in charge of the purse strings, even though they have no line-by-line control over the police budget.

As The Spectator’s Emma Reilly has reported, for the first time in recent memory, council is considering whether to reject a budget increase requested by the police with the endorsement of the Police Service Board (PSB). If council rejects the budget presented by Chief Glenn De Caire, it will go back to the board, which could accept council’s suggested increase or appeal to the Ontario Civilian Police Commission.

These circumstances are unusual in Hamilton. Historically, councillors have not aggressively disputed the police budget in this way. One result has been a push for the PSB to be accountable to taxpayers, not just the chief, and that is good thing.

It is troubling, though, to see the relationship deteriorate between council and police leadership. It appears council’s confidence and trust in the police leadership has eroded as councillors pushed for answers to valid questions on behalf of Hamilton taxpayers. This is not such a good thing and we must be concerned about the outcome if that relationship is not repaired. Police leaders must adapt to the demands of accountability, particularly regarding taxpayers’ money. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)