Editorial: Plain facts?

Town residents are going to fill out their police surveys beginning this week, but the storm of conflicting information has been hard to synthesize into a well-informed opinion. How can we ensure that a sound decision is made for the future of Deep River?

Certainly, deciding the OPP stinks based on other people’s perception of the OPP’s services doesn’t work because one hears many discouraging anecdotes, but a collection of anecdotes do not constitute reliable data. The numbers presented by the OPP regarding “customer” satisfaction indicate that most people are very satisfied with the service provided. In a recent edition of this paper, a story was printed about the satisfying response that the town of Laurentian Hills received when they brought up concerns about policing to their OPP representative. But that’s just another anecdote.

Another question is whether under the OPP there would always be a police cruiser within Deep River for a quick response to crises. Statements by the OPP imply that there would. Many Deep River citizens don’t seem to believe that, and if they can’t believe what the OPP tells them, how can they debate effectively the merits of the proposal?

It’s tough to believe that the Town and the OPP are conspiring to increase costs, increase taxes, and to guarantee that our town will become overridden with crime. Hearing the members of the OPP speak at the several meetings that have occurred, these officers have seemed like upstanding, intelligent, and professional people who know how to get a job done right.

The OPP carries out its duties in an efficient, scientific manner. They propose to respond to actual conditions by sending resources where they will be most effective in preventing crime. As the actual conditions change, police activity would also change. The DRPS, without similar analytical resources, may be over-policing and therefore inefficient.

If the numbers in the information pamphlet are correct, an enormous cost savings will be gained by switching to OPP. If the trade-off is a small decline in service, that could be acceptable to residents who acknowledge that Deep River is not a hotbed of criminal activity.

The costs of service should be the one straightforward, mathematical area of comparison. However, even those numbers have been criticized as being unreliable and even manipulated to show a bias toward one side. How can the public make an informed decision when even the numbers, those “plain facts” seem to be arguable?

If they had a set of facts that seemed reliable, the denizens of this town would be able to make up their minds with confidence. More time is needed to ensure this decision is not made with hot heads. Unfortunately, time is not on our side in this case.