Open house meetings will review policing plans

by | Nov 1, 2023

District of Carleton North and Hartland looking to replace RCMP with new municipal police force

A pair of upcoming open houses will provide residents of the District of Carleton North and Hartland an opportunity to see, question and share opinions on plans to establish a new policing model in their communities.

The communities’ policing review committee announced plans for an open house meeting on Nov. 8 in Florenceville-Bristol and Nov. 9 in Hartland.

The Police Review Committee will host the Nov. 8 meeting in the Weldon Matthews Theatre at Carleton North High School, while the Nov. 9 meeting is scheduled for Hartland Community School. Both meetings begin at 6:30 p.m.

The committee said the open houses would allow residents to “learn more about the proposed new policing service” replacing the RCMP in the two communities.

Discussion topics include current service level, timeline, survey feedback, service model, proposed effective date and outcome.

District of Carleton North and Hartland Police Review Committee, headed by retired RCMP District Commander, Staff Sgt. John de Winter, created a policing plan to replace West District RCMP with a new municipal force to cover both communities.

In an interview with the River Valley Sun last month, de Winter explained the committee’s focus is to create a new policing option to meet the needs of residents. He explained residents in both communities want improved visibility and service.

“They want an increased police presence, a 24-7 model similar to what they have in Woodstock,” de Winter said.

Following amalgamations in both communities that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2023, the newly elected councils agreed to form the joint police review committee.

The upcoming open house meetings are part of the review process approved by Justice and Public Safety Minister Kris Austin, outlined in the province’s Police Service Delivery Model Process Guide.

Mayors in both communities support the idea of the policing review.

“Policing is a major issue to the people of Carleton North,” said Mayor Andrew Harvey. “Our residents want to see a local police service that is highly present and effective across our entire municipality to serve and protect our citizens.”

Hartland Mayor Tracey DeMerchant believes the review committee, under de Winter’s leadership, can deliver an improved policing option.

“We are confident that his knowledge and experience will enable us to propose an excellent and affordable police service for our community,” she said.

The cost and level of service are at the heart of the policing proposal.

As it develops its policing vision, de Winter said the committee studies those significant issues.

From a cost perspective, he noted Carleton North and Hartland now pay approximately $3 million annually for RCMP service. He called that a starting point for a new municipal service.

The National Police Federation, representing New Brunswick RCMP, questioned the viability of a municipal force for the two communities. In online statements, the federation suggested the committee is considering “more expensive and less specialized policing services.”

The upcoming open house meetings are part of the review process, which de Winter said would determine cost, staffing and service levels needed to meet public demands.

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