Tantramar Mayor Andrew Black read a three-minute statement on Tuesday apologizing to his fellow council members for saying that the town is “adequately policed.”
He referred to comments he made during the public question period at a meeting last month when he, and other members of council, were asked if they were satisfied with the level of policing provided by the RCMP.
Only Black answered the question while every other member of council remained silent.
He said twice that he thought the town was “adequately policed,” but in his statement this week, apologized for speaking as mayor on behalf of council when the matter had not been discussed in advance.
“It is clear to me that we all may have a different understanding of what ‘adequately policed’ as I put it, may mean to ourselves and to the citizens that we serve,” he said.
“There has been much chatter on social media about policing as of late and I have received some comments directly from Tantramar residents with concerns about police services in our community,” Black said.
“So, I wanted to clarify what I meant by ‘adequately policed’ and that is, adequately policed when it comes to what we pay for in our contract agreement with the RCMP.”
The mayor went on to acknowledge that the future of policing is a topic for “significant conversation” in New Brunswick because of a wide variety of concerns including police response times, increasing costs and what he called “public perception and community mindedness of the RCMP.”
He also referred to the Mounties’ ongoing problems in recruiting the officers needed to fill vacancies.
In August, Sgt. Eric Hanson, head of the Sackville detachment, told council that four of his officers were on long-term sick leave out of a total number of 18.
“The way our organization works, there’s no replacement for these people,” Hanson said.
“There isn’t a pool of RCMP officers that we can borrow from when somebody goes off sick; we just have to bear the weight of their loss.”
Policing is ‘complicated’
In his statement on Tuesday, Black suggested that policing is complicated.
“The RCMP operationalize their policing as they need to attempting to balance local priorities with internal priorities and needs,” he said, adding that the town will continue to work with local officers “and inform them of public concerns.”
To read Black’s full statement, click here.
For coverage on the discussion of police services at last month’s council meeting, click here.
To read a Warktimes backgrounder on what Sackville residents want from the RCMP, click here.