Edgar And The Police

Tell me directly. How would you feel if you were a member of the Windsor Police Force and someone alleged this in the Star for everyone to see:

“[Name of person] admits he’s been warned repeatedly not to try changing police culture. “[Name of person] says he’s even been threatened by cops bragging publicly about how they intend to make life difficult for him and his family if they can. “These guys just don’t get it.” (Chris Vander Doelen Windsor Star January 7, 2012)

That is pretty serious stuff. Effectively, someone and his family have been threatened by police officers who might take some kind of serious action against them personally. As Annie reminded us:

“Offended? I’m a columnist. Taking flak is part of my job. (The venom of MMA enthusiasts was shocking.)

But this was different. Snyder is a former champion shot putter who towers six foot five and weighs about 280 pounds. I’m all of five foot four, a little over 100 pounds soaking wet. He could probably hurl me a good distance.

And his email was again, to say the least, inappropriate.

And Snyder is authorized to carry a gun.

Offended wasn’t the right word. I was unnerved. The next couple of weeks – and every time I wrote a column about the police – I was looking over my shoulder.

All this over a column about unfair practices in public parking lots. Go figure.” (Anne Jarvis Windsor Star April 2, 2012)

You would be outraged at the smear against you and all of the other members of the Force I would have thought. You would have wondered why this person has not filed a complaint with either the Police Department or perhaps the OPP about the threats and the officers involved or had the Attorney General Department investigate.

What if I told you that that person named by mini-Gord in his column was Mayor Edgar (aka Eddie) Francis, then how would you feel. How could you hold your head up high doing your job when what mini-Gord alleged the Mayor said has cast a cloud of suspicion over the entire Police Force.

Unfortunately, if the Mayor is removed from the Police Services Board, then it is his own fault. He has no one to blame but himself. By wearing two hats, that of Mayor and that of the Chair of the Police Services Board, there is an inherent conflict of interest. That conflict is now biting the Mayor in the rear end.

When did the relationship between Edgar (aka Eddie) and the men and women of the Windsor Police force break down? I wish I could answer that but it seems to me that a good starting point could have been this incident in 2009 when the Police Chief:

“formally apologized to the Muslim community for the “embarrassment” caused by tactical officers during the arrests…”

The Emergency Services Unit conducted the arrests in full gear with guns drawn, and there is an allegation that male tactical officers “pat-searched” a Muslim woman — Khan’s wife. Shortly after the incident, Smith met with Mayor Eddie Francis and leaders of the Muslim community in the mayor’s office.

Francis said the meeting was attended by himself as chairman of the Windsor Police Services Board, Irfan Qadir — a Muslim member of the Windsor Police Services Board — Smith, the two deputy police chiefs, and three representatives from the Windsor Islamic Association including Peer.” (Dalson Chen The Windsor Star 14 Nov 2009)

At that time, the Star reported:

“Although the chief’s apology was welcomed by the Windsor Islamic Association, many other members of the public — including the Windsor police officers’ union — have expressed disagreement with it.”

It just seems to me, and I don’t know, but the Police have had enough. You can only push people so far and then they say we are not taking it any more. What the straw was that broke the camel’s back, we, the public, may never know.

There is no doubt that some police officers have deserved the strongest criticism possible. But that is going to happen in any large organization. I cannot believe that Police officers would take it out on the Mayor for wanting improvements to the Force. I would have thought that they would be prepared to cooperate with the Mayor to do so because it is in their interest as well. Moreover, how can they object to someone being disciplined or even fired if they put the reputation of all of the other members of the Force at risk.

However, for the Mayor to call for changes to the Police Act because of officers telling lies and not ask for changes to the Municipal Act after the Dwight-Lite scandal has to have officers fuming. The hypocrisy of it all. The kid-glove treatment that the Councillor is receiving, even though he admitted what he did was “wrong,” has to be quite disconcerting.

However, there have been issues, smoldering under the surface it would now appear, with the Police Force that have probably antagonized them.

For example, and this has always bothered me, it was only after Police Chief Smith resigned that the Mayor put up a spirited defence for him. Why wasn’t he there for the Chief before? Inflammatory language, threats with respect to labour negotiations, lack of City evidence resulting in a high arbitration decision, so-called parking perks that were not, laying off of civilian staff. The relationship between the Police and the Windsor Star has not been the greatest either. All of that I think pushed the Association to take the step they did.

There is no doubt though that the main irritant between the Mayor and the Police Association is over salaries and benefits. In fact, right after the CUPE strike, we saw this reported:

“Mayor Eddie Francis said if not for the backing of Windsor’s residents on the benefit battle, “we never would have got rid of this liability.

“The fact residents responded the way they did gave council the political support they needed to stand strong. If there was a consensus that said ‘give up on it,’ they would have.”

Francis and administrators indicated Friday they will seek the same concession with the city’s fire, police, Transit Windsor and Huron Lodge unionized employees during upcoming contract talks.” (Dave Battagello Windsor Star 25 July 2009)

Consider these remarks that the Mayor made during contract negotiations:

—”Anticipating a tough round of talks, the police services board has decided to play hardball and is bringing in an outside negotiator — perhaps for the first time in its history — to lead contract talks with the association representing police officers.
“This will be a difficult set of negotiations. There are significant issues, and the bottom line is affordability for us,” said Mayor Eddie Francis, who chairs the board…

“From my perspective, everything is on the table,” said Francis…

“It’s probably going to be different if they’ve hired out-of-town legal counsel — that’s a rarity,” said Const. Ed Parent, president of the Windsor Police Association.

Asked what his members are looking for in a new contract, Parent said those details are a matter for the bargaining table: “The city tries to pull that stuff…. I’m not going to play that game.” (Doug Schmidt Windsor Star 27 Jan 2010)

“—Burrows said it’s the first time in his decades of experience that the city has retained an outside negotiator in Windsor police contract talks. “It certainly makes us wonder why they would choose to do that,” Burrows said.

Asked if he thinks the move has anything to do with this fall’s municipal election, Burrows said: “I don’t know if it’s so much because it’s an election year, or if people are hell-bent on removing benefits from all city employees — including police, who I would suggest are really in a category of their own.”

Burrows noted that the last four-year contract between the police association and the board was negotiated in less than three weeks, with no outside lawyer, and going to arbitration was never mentioned by anyone. “You know why? Because we’re professionals, and we attempt at every turn to do business in the right way.”

“We’re all here for the same reason, and that’s protect the citizens of this city.” (Dalson Chen Windsor Star 09 Apr 2010)

Yet, as I wrote before, the arbitration decision is the result of the City’s failure to provide proper evidence “Why Edgar Lost The Police Arbitration

What do you think about this kind of language:

“While agreeing with complaints from Windsor’s police chief that his headquarters building is “cramped,” Mayor Eddie Francis is throwing cold water on any thought of a new facility being built to replace the east-end detachment closed last year.

“We’re not building Taj Mahals anymore … we’re not building multimillion-dollar places anymore,” Francis said when asked of the chances of Windsor’s police getting a new stand-alone home.”

“I don’t want to sound alarmist … (but) we’re at capacity at the downtown headquarters,” police Chief Gary Smith told council during his annual report to city council Monday night. (Doug Schmidt Windsor Star 11 Aug 2010)

“For example, as Windsor police and the city get ready to sit down with a provincially appointed arbitrator later this spring, Mayor Eddie Francis has already made it clear that the city is on course for a zero tax increase and any arbitrated settlement that doesn’t reflect the realities facing taxpayers will have repercussions.

“My message to the police is they’re not immune from the cuts,” said Francis. “I won’t have the city cannibalized” in order to finance any increase in the police budget.” (Windsor Star 16 Feb 2011)

“Francis still vows he will not confiscate money from other departments again to “subsidize” the police budget. Their budget is frozen, too.” (Chris Vander Doelen Windsor Star 17 Sep 2011)

“The arbitrator’s salary ruling adds $1.8 million to annual police labour costs.

Mayor Eddie Francis said that amount will have to be found within the department.

“As mayor, I refuse to pass this on to the taxpayer and on to other departments,” said Francis, who also chairs the police board.” (Doug Schmidt Windsor Star December 7, 2011)

Yet here is what the Chief at the time said:

“He cited a September report that concluded Windsor’s per capita policing costs were average for the province but that the local department was the busiest and had the second-highest clearance rate in Ontario.

“We are appropriately staffed and, I shouldn’t say this, appropriately funded,” police Chief Gary Smith told the board at the time. (Doug Schmidt Windsor Star 10 Feb 2011)

I won’t bore you with more quotes that I have found in my database but I’m sure that you understand where I am going with all this.

People have had it and are not going to take it anymore. It started with John Middleton, moved to the “toxic work environment” alleged by Angela Berry, the termination of Todd Langlois and now the Dwight-Lite Scandal.

It is hardly unexpected for the Police Department to say that they have had enough of this too. They have no intention of being  abused any more by  anyone.  It is  personal now. Regardless of the outcome, that is the message that they have delivered.

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