Windsor Police Chief Frederick Says Stress Leave Numbers Unfounded

A claim made by Windsor mayoral challenger Matt Marchand has raised a lot of questions.

During the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce debate between Marchand and incumbent Drew Dilkens, Marchand made this statement:

"The other thing we need to do is get some of our officers back on the street.  The Windsor police service has got the highest number of officers that are on stress leave, reduced leave, call it what you want.  We've got to get those folks back into the community.  We've got to protect those who are protecting us"

Marchand reiterated that claim at a subsequent mayoral debate the following night.

The comment has Windsor Police Chief Al Frederick scratching his head.

He says policing is a stressful job and while assistance programs are offered, none of that information has been released publicly.

"Yes we've increased our efforts to help officers if they are feeling stressed, but to say that we have an increased number of people off on stress leave, we do not collect that data, we don't have that data, we haven't released any data like that."

AM800-News-Chief-Al-Frederick

AM800 file photo of Windsor Police Chief Al Frederick

Frederick says those statistics would cross the line when it comes to privacy policies.

"Anyone seeking medical help is a private issue, so as an employer I only have access to certain data, that would not be one of them.  If they are seeking help through a psychologist or through some other peer counselling group I don't have access to that or an entitlement to that information. So I can't confirm that either."

He says leaves of all kinds happen in every business and certainly for police officers.

"There's no question that there's always a number of people off for a variety of reasons, maternity leave, sick leave and long term disability.  Those processes are part and parcel of every police organization.  But to say that we're the highest or lowest he would have to have the data from every other police service to say that."

Frederick makes it clear no data has ever been released publicly to indicate how many police officers in Windsor are off on stress leave.

— with files from AM800's Peter Langille