RCMP closing Sarnia, Ont. detachment by March 2019
A local newspaper was the first to break the news of the pending closure of the RCMP detachment in Sarnia, Ont., taking many by surprise last month.
According to an email from the RCMP to Blue Line, the detachment will continue to operate as normal throughout the summer and is tentatively slated to shut down officially on March 31, 2019.
“This date will move forward should the relocation efforts of the employees and all tasks associated to the closing are completed. There will be a period of transition where calls for service will start to migrate to London Detachment,” the RCMP stated.
Some employees may have to move, they added.
The closure is not based on costs, the federal policing agency insisted, rather it is consistent with activities under the Division Strategic Plan, Federal Policing’s Strategic Plan, and Priority Setting Framework.
“Simply, these are efforts to ensure that we have our people in place to investigate the highest threats to public safety. An ‘O’ Division Impact Assessment was conducted which formalized the results of historical recommendations, and resulted in a plan for the realignment of resources. This plan included an analysis of the operational results and impacts of the detachments; their geographic locations; and the effectiveness and efficiency of maintaining the sites.”
Sarnia Detachment was one of the six original detachments created when “O” Division was established in 1920.
“Project Renewal and the resulting restructuring and streamlining, precipitated the amalgamation, downsizing, or the outright closure of numerous detachments,” the RCMP said. “This downsizing and subsequent change in the reporting relationships grew out of an ‘O’ Division-wide need in 1994 to address cost over-runs. Effective April 1, 1996, Sarnia Detachment was downsized to a storefront or satellite location reporting under London Detachment organizational structure.”
The primary roles of the Sarnia members have been to work on matters with Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and Border Integrity, according to the RCMP email, noting these duties are predominantly investigative in nature, rather than call-response.
“As such, these investigations can adequately be handled from London, Ont., which is only one hour away.”
Windsor Shiprider, whose area of responsibility includes the marine area of Sarnia, will maintain RCMP visibility in the area.
“Planned events that meet the RCMP Federal Policing Strategic Priorities will continue to be executed. An example would include the August ‘Floatdown’ event in which U.S. citizens were accidentally forced to the Canadian shore a few years ago. Even this year, while the detachment is still in operation, several members from London, Kitchener, Windsor, and Niagara will be in Sarnia to assist local and U.S. authorities with the Floatdown to ensure public safety.”
As the closure caught many by surprise, including Sarnia-Lambton MP Marilyn Gladu, the RCMP explained to Blue Line it did have a communications plan that included notification to the community.
“The first priority was advising the effected employees. The unanticipated media reporting on the issue affected the timing of notification to the larger audience. Since that time, key stakeholders have been spoken to, and their concerns addressed regarding service delivery.”
Thus far the feedback has been positive, RCMP said.
“Community members were initially concerned that the RCMP was leaving the area completely. Once it was understood that there will still be an active response to investigative calls and calls for assistance by partners, such as CBSA, Sarnia Police, Walpole Island Police and United States Border Patrol.”