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Niagara Parks Police Service

Niagara Parks Police Service
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MottoUnity, Loyalty, Responsibility
Agency overview
Formed1887
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdictionRegional Municipality of Niagara, Ontario, Canada
Governing bodyNiagara Regional Police Services Board
Constituting instrument
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters6075 Niagara Parkway, Niagara Falls, Ontario
Special constables21[1]
Non-sworn members6-46[1]
Elected officer responsible
Agency executive
Website
www.niagaraparks.com/aboutus/police.php

The Niagara Parks Police Service is a special constabulary maintained by the Niagara Parks Commission in Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake and Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada. Established in 1887, the Niagara Parks Police Service has a unique status among Ontario special constabularies in that its members are armed and trained at the Ontario Police College.[2] As special constables, Parks Police officers only have authority on or in relation to property owned by the Niagara Parks Commission, in contrast to municipal or provincial police officers, who have authority province-wide.

The Service is funded entirely by the Niagara Parks Commission, an agency of the Province of Ontario, and operates with an annual budget of approximately $3.6 million.[3]

As of 2021, Niagara Parks Police officers fall under the mandate of the Special Investigations Unit.[4]

History

The Niagara Parks Commission was established in 1885 and charged with maintaining the land and buildings immediately surrounding the Canadian side of the Horseshoe Falls.[5] The Parks Police Service was established three years later, and initially consisted of two police officers.[1] The Parks Police Service was originally incorporated and authorized as a police force, but at some point during the mid-20th-century, it was re-organized as a special constabulary.[1]

In 2010, the provincial government and Niagara Regional Police Services Board considered discontinuing the Parks Police Service, citing concerns about a lack of accountability for special constables.[6] At the time, special constables were not under the jurisdiction of the province's Special Investigations Unit (SIU), meaning that Parks Police officers who fired their guns or were involved in interactions that ended in the death or serious injury of a suspect would be investigated by another police force rather than the civilian watchdog.[6][7]

In 2019, the authority of the SIU was expanded to include "special constables employed by the Niagara Parks Commission."[8]

Also in 2019, the Parks Commission fired then-Police Chief Mark McMullen after an internal HR investigation into a traffic stop the previous summer.[9] Inspector Paul Forcier was subsequently appointed as his replacement.

In 2022, a Parks Police officer shot and killed a man armed with bear spray and an edged weapon.[10] The subsequent SIU investigation found that the officer had acted in self defence, and no charges were laid.[11]

Police chiefs

There have been 15 chiefs of police over the course of the Service's history. The current Chief of the Niagara Parks Police Service is Paul Forcier.[12]

Chief Tenure
William Bowman 1887–1904
James Wilcox 1904-1908
Joseph Vandersluys 1908-1913
J. Harrison Plow 1913-1920
John Jackson 1920-1924
Charles Atcherly 1924-1940
Cyril Bratley 1940-1957
Edwin Rehfeld 1957-1967
Wilfred J. Derbyshire 1967-1993
Raymond G. Vassallo 1993-2003
Timothy Berndt 2003-2008
Douglas Kane[13] 2008-2013
Carl Scott[13] 2013–2017
Mark McMullen[9] 2017-2019
Paul Forcier[12] 2019-

Organization

Authority

Officers of Niagara Parks Police Service are appointed as special constables and have the full powers of a police officer to enforce the Criminal Code, the Niagara Parks Act, the Highway Traffic Act, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Trespass to Property Act, and the Liquor License Act on or in relation to the approximately 3274 acres of parkland and 56 kilometers of highway owned and operated by the Niagara Parks Commission.[1] The Niagara Regional Police Service maintains jurisdictional authority over the entirety of the Niagara Region, including the Commission lands patrolled by the Parks Police. The special constables are appointed by the Niagara Regional Police Services Board with the approval of the Ministry of the Solicitor General, and the appointments must be renewed every five years.[14][15]

Ranks

Title Number Type
Chief of Police 1 Special Constable
Inspector 1 Special Constable
Sergeant 4 Special Constable
Constable 21 Special Constable
Communications Officer 4 full-time Dispatcher
Provincial Offences Officer 2 full-time, up to 40 seasonal Provincial Offences Officer

Headquarters

Niagara Parks Police headquarters.

The Niagara Parks Police Headquarters is located at 6075 Niagara Parkway, Niagara Falls, Ontario, directly across from the American Falls in the former Administrative Building of the Niagara Parks Commission.[16]

Specialized units

The Niagara Parks Police Service employs three specialized units: the High Angle River Team (HART), a part-time unit which consists of officers specially trained in high angle rescue techniques;[17] the Marine Unit, which patrols both the upper and lower Niagara Rivers alongside the Niagara Regional Police; and a Canine Unit consisting of one handler and a dog trained in search and rescue and explosives detection.[18]

During peak tourist season the Service employs up to 40 students as provincial offences officers, responsible for the orderly flow of traffic and parking offences. These officers supplement 2 full-time provincial offences officers who are employed year-round.[1]

Equipment

Uniforms

A Niagara Parks Police Service shoulder flash worn by special constables.

Parks Police officers wear traditional police navy blue uniform shirts and cargo pants with red trouser piping, while provincial offences officers wear baby blue uniform shirts. Special constables have the option to wear a peaked forage cap with a yellow band, and all members have ballcaps with the Service's crest. Members wear gold shoulder flashes which read "Parks Police," "Provincial Offences Officer," or "Communication Officer" based on their role.

Weapons

Despite their special constable status, Parks Police officers have the unique authority to carry firearms, pepper spray, and tasers. In addition to this equipment, officers carry handcuffs, and telescopic batons.[15] Seasonal provincial offences officers are not trained or authorized to carry any form of weapon, but full-time provincial officers carry batons and pepper spray.[1]

Fleet

The Niagara Parks Police Service uses the Ford Police Interceptor Utility as a primary patrol vehicle. The Service also has a fleet of Giant bicycles, a Chevy Silverado pickup truck used by the High Angle Rescue Team, and a Ford F150 pickup truck used by the Canine Unit.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Niagara Parks Police Service: Unique in Ontario". issuu.
  2. ^ Hogg, William (April 23, 2010). "Time-Honoured Niagara Parks Police – One Of Oldest Police Forces In Ontario – Could Die Without Public Support". NiagaraAtLarge.com. Retrieved April 11, 2017.
  3. ^ "opseu217.com". Retrieved April 11, 2017.
  4. ^ "Annual Report" (PDF). Special Investigations Unit.
  5. ^ "About Us: History". Niagara Parks.
  6. ^ a b "Region to Parks Police: We have your back". Niagara This Week.
  7. ^ "SIU stops investigation into death of man at Niagara Gorge". Niagara This Week.
  8. ^ "Ford government to make changes to Police Services Act". CityNews.
  9. ^ a b "Niagara Parks Police chief fired and under investigation". Toronto Star.
  10. ^ "Man, 49, shot dead by Niagara Parks Police officer: SIU". Welland Tribune.
  11. ^ "Niagara Parks Police officer cleared in February shooting death at Rainbow Bridge". Global News.
  12. ^ a b "New Chief named for Niagara Parks Police".
  13. ^ a b "New chief for the Niagara Parks Police". Niagara Falls Review.
  14. ^ "Police Services Act O. Reg. 268/10, s. 53 (1)".
  15. ^ a b "Report on Special Constables in Ontario: A White Paper from the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police" (PDF). Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police.
  16. ^ "Niagara Parks Police". NiagaraParks.com. Retrieved April 11, 2017.
  17. ^ "Niagara Parks Police removing Peter DeBernardi from cable attached to Spanish Aero Car - Details". NFLibrary.ca. Retrieved April 11, 2017.
  18. ^ "Name Selected for Niagara Parks Police Puppy - Niagara Parks Blog". NiagaraParks.com. Retrieved April 11, 2017.
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Niagara Parks Police Service
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