After false start, Napanee Council appoints councillor to OPP board

Former OPP officer Mayor Terry Richardson (centre) shares a laugh with former police officer Councillor Bob Norrie (third from left) during the meeting of the Greater Napanee Town Council on Tuesday, Jun. 25, 2024. Screen captured image.

The Council of the Town of Greater Napanee has agreed on which cop may “cop a cop.” That cop is Councillor Bob Norrie.

After Council erroneously appointed Mayor Terry Richardson to the newly formed Lennox and Addington (L&A) Detachment Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Service Board during a meeting on Tuesday, Jun. 11, 2024, Town staff produced a new report last week confirming that the mayor was not eligible to serve because he had worked for the detachment years ago. What’s more, it turned out that no former members of the OPP may serve on the new boards, as was revealed at the regular meeting of Council on Tuesday, Jun. 25, 2024.

At that meeting, Town Clerk Jessica Walters first apologized for the error, saying, “I want to take this opportunity to apologize for my oversight at our last meeting and acknowledge that I should have reached out to the solicitor general’s office before we made an appointment and not after we made an appointment.”

She then went on to further clarify that “there is still wrong information in my report, as when I was writing it, my understanding was that it was about a location-specific issue. But we have further clarified that it is actually the OPP generally — a member [or] former member of the OPP is not permitted to sit on an OPP detachment board anywhere in the province.”

“It appears that the intent is that a former city police officer could sit on an OPP board, and a former OPP officer could sit on a city board, but not to cross those two,” she explained. “So again, my apologies for not having that information for you at the last meeting.”

Next, she confirmed that the Town was prepared to begin actively recruiting community members for the board, and that an application form would be “up and live tomorrow morning for anybody from the public who’s interested.”

Mayor Richardson sympathized with the error, saying, “Our friends at the provincial government had five years to get this thing right, and when I went back through it, I’ll be quite honest with you: the way that it is defined with respect to who can sit on these boards and who can’t is is very, very, very ambiguous.”

He even went on to suggest that the ambiguity and the definition left room for “an argument that there may be a constitutional issue here, but that’s for another day, in another form.”

It was clearly insulting to the former police officer that, as he saw it, the policy seemed to suggest former members of the OPP could not be objective.

“For a group of people to suggest that because the Ontario Provincial Police have employed you, be it for one day or for 45 years, anywhere in this great province,… you don’t have the ability to be fair and honest and to sit on a police board is somewhat ridiculous,” Richardson said, adding that he was going “to do some more homework” on the situation.

“In any event, we are where we are this evening, and we will re-select a member from council to sit on the police service board,” the mayor said. He then entertained a motion from Deputy Mayor Brian Calver, who moved that Councillor Bob Norrie, also a retired police officer, sit on the OPP Board.

Norrie accepted the nomination.

“And have you ever worked for the Ontario Provincial Police?” Richardson asked.

“No way,” answered Norrie, with a laugh.

“Thank you, Councillor Norrie,” said the mayor. “I think we’re all aware that Councillor Norrie has been retired from policing service for a number of years, and will do a marvellous job on the police services board.”

The motion to appoint Norrie passed unanimously.

The L&A OPP Detachment Board is now seeking two community members to join the board: one member to jointly represent the communities of Addington Highlands and Stone Mills and one member to jointly represent the communities of Greater Napanee and Loyalist Township. More information is available on the Town’s website.

The province’s Public Appointments Secretariat has also advertised a position for a provincial appointee to the board.

As always, you can read full Council meeting agendas on Napanee’s civic web online, and watch meetings live or recorded on the town’s YouTube channel.

Leave a Reply

You cannot copy content from this page, please share the link instead!