STELLARTON – Police commission chair George Megeney says he has no conflict of interest in relation to Stellarton’s police review process.
At a Stellarton council meeting Monday, Coun. Denise Taylor made several statements on the process, including a remark stating that she believes current or former members of any police service should not sit on the review committee.
Megeney was a police officer with New Glasgow from 1968 to 1976 and also the Stellarton police force for 22 years.
“I certainly don’t have any conflict whatsoever. It would be my responsibility to declare one if I felt there was one. My concern is that we provide the citizens of Stellarton the best possible policing service we can at the best possible cost,” Megeney said, adding that too much time has passed for anyone to suggest he could have a conflict.
Former Stellarton police officer and former acting chief of police, Hugh Muir, also made comments calling the transparency of the review process into question.
He said New Glasgow should not have to beg for information to submit a proposal, adding that he saw the budget sheet that was given to New Glasgow and it had a number of “holes.”
He also said he felt confident acting chief Don Hussher had all the information necessary to make a joint Westville-Stellarton proposal.
“In my mind this is a blatant conflict and could certainly lead to union difficulties down the line, if in fact that’s the choice i.e. if the existing force isn’t happy with the ultimate outcome somewhere down the line,” said Muir.
In response to this, Megeney stated Hussher has not any input in the process. He will be a part of presenting the proposal to the review committee.
Stellarton has received proposals from the RCMP, Westville and its own town. The review process is set to begin on Oct. 31.
Each member of the committee has received copies of the proposal and will be able to prepare questions.
The police review committee will then discuss the merits of each.
Megeney says he hopes this meeting will be open to the public, but that has yet to be decided.
“The public will be kept fully informed. It’s a very serious thing. If the committee and council decide to change the direction of policing for the town, then the public should be fully informed.”
Megeney says the Stellarton mayor and CAO met with the New Glasgow mayor and CAO on Tuesday to ask them again to submit a proposal.
“I don’t know what their decision will be, but we’re willing if they decide they’d like to put in a proposal. We will certainly put everything on hold until they can produce a proposal and at that point, we will schedule hearings for them to present their proposal and answer questions.”
That is expected to come up at New Glasgow council next week.
New Glasgow opted not to provide a proposal earlier in the process because they said they didn’t receive several pieces of information they needed.
They asked for budgets, prisoner counts, occurrence statistics, and overtime costs for five years. The Town of Stellarton provided them with information for three years.
They were also looking for information on dispatch, crosswalks, by-laws and a personnel overview.
Megeney says they received all the necessary information. Dispatch and crosswalk services are not part of the policing proposals and will remain the same.
Megeney hopes to sort out these issues and move forward with the process. He says the review committee will vote for what they believe to be the best service and the side issues that have come up in the process should not enter into it.
“These types of disagreements, it doesn’t do anyone any good. It sends the wrong message to citizens. It really does and they deserve better.”
With files from Christopher Cameron
On Twitter: @NGNewsAmanda