The Municipality of Chatham-Kent is a mixed rural and urban population of approximately 101,600 residents in a geographic area covering 2,400 square kilometres. Its rural-based agricultural roots promote family values, a sense of community, and a spirit of cooperation. The municipality is an amalgamation of small communities that once governed themselves and provided their own policing services. Through amalgamation, government services (including policing), were centralized resulting in the genesis of the Chatham-Kent Police Service. The communities that comprise Chatham-Kent are (with their approximate populations in parentheses): Chatham (45,000), Wallaceburg (12,000), Blenheim (5,000), Tilbury (4,500), Ridgetown (3,500), Dresden (2,700), Wheatley (1,900), Bothwell (1,000), and Thamesville (1,000). The remaining population lives in rural areas interspersed throughout the municipality on agricultural lands. Each community maintains its own traditions and historical pride.
In 1995, former Toronto Mayor David Crombie was appointed to review the Ontario provincial-municipal relationship as part of the “Who Does What” task force. The result was a recommendation for municipalities to amalgamate in order to capture sustainable economies of scale.
The Provincial government commissioned Dr. Peter Meyboom to restructure the County of Kent, pursuant to section 25.3 of the Municipal Act. In 1997, Dr. Meyboom concluded a two-month consultative process and ordered the County of Kent to amalgamate. Effective September 1, 1998, 23 municipalities formed a single government, the Municipality of Chatham-Kent.
The newly minted police service had to rationalize operations to ensure the effective delivery of services across Chatham-Kent. The municipality was divided into four geographic districts and each of these was sub-divided into distinct patrol zones for effective officer deployment.