Le Lézard
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Subjects: LBR, AVO, CPG

OPSEU "satisfied" with removal of permanent police presence at several jails

TORONTO, Oct. 31, 2019 /CNW/ - Calling it a small but important step in addressing the "Crisis in Corrections," OPSEU leaders are satisfied with the Ford government's recent decision to end funding for the permanent presence of police officers at several jails.

"Our jails are still dangerously overcrowded and violent," said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. "But give credit where it's due: the government is making the right move by investing in our correctional officers' ability to investigate and reduce crime inside our jails."

In early October, the solicitor general announced that it will no longer provide funding to police departments that stationed "police liaison officers" at several jails, including Central East Correctional Centre, Central North Correctional Centre, and Maplehurst Correctional Complex.

The announcement came in the wake of the ministry's decision to support the expanded use of "field intelligence officers" and "institutional security teams" to reduce crime within jails.

"As correctional officers, we fully support our policing justice partners and acknowledge the important but difficult job they do in our communities," said Chris Jackel, the chair of OPSEU's 9,000-member correctional division. "We need to have a continued working relationship with the police to lay charges against inmates who assault staff in institutions and commit other offences."

"But the fact is that 21 of Ontario's 25 institutions have never had police officers stationed in them full-time. Correctional officers have always been the first point of response to emergencies, and the staff responsible for the collection and continuity of evidence, intelligence gathering and investigations," said Jackel. "There's no reason this can't be used as the best practice in all of our institutions."

OPSEU First Vice-President / Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, who is himself a correctional officer, says the decision makes perfect sense.

"I know what our members do best: reduce crime in our jails," said Almeida. "This decision will allow police officers to focus on what they do best: reduce crime in our communities."

SOURCE Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

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