The Leamington OPP detachment could see significantly reduced hours unless the municipality is willing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars more a year.

The lights are on but no one's home. That could soon be a very real possibility at the Leamington OPP detachment if you arrive after 4 p.m. 

Town administrators have been notified that 24-hour access to the local detachment will end by April 1st, unless the community is willing to pay for round-the-clock presence.

The change comes despite a standing five-year contract.  

Leamington residents will soon be asked what they think about the municipality footing the bill to keep the police station open after hours.

Leamington Mayor John Paterson took the diplomatic approach toward policing that could soon cost a lot more, saying "We're just going to have to work things out between the two parties."

Keeping the detachment open to the public 24 hours a day would cost the municipality an additional $339,000 a year.

Some residents seem uncertain about the possible consequences of not having the police office open after hours.

Peter Jusilla says “How is it going to affect the service that we are going to get? That's what comes to bottom line right?”

The OPP informed the municipality by letter last month that it would be more efficient to relocate certain positions currently staffed in Leamington to a more central provincial office.

The letter gave an April 1st deadline, saying the detachment will become similar to other OPP locations with public hours between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. unless the town can cover the costs.

Paterson says he was caught by surprise with the proposed change to the current police contract adding, “I thought we had a five-year contract with them, but I'm not a lawyer so I don't know exactly how the contract read."

Paterson says a decision will be made after a public input meeting, but given the abrupt notice of the proposed changes - mid-way through the contract - more information is needed from citizens and all parties involved.

OPP officials say officers will still be present in the community after hours, but there would be no dispatching or on-site availability to the community in the evening.

The mayor says they're looking at March 31st as a possible date for a public input meeting.

Meantime, administrators are trying to see if an extension on the April 1st deadline can be granted.

The OPP declined to comment on the matter at this time saying it's a contractual issue.