Police bring forward a modest budget increase

Tyler
Tyler Clarke
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Prince Albert Police Service Chief Troy Cooper outlines the city’s 2014 police budget for city council at Thursday’s budget committee meeting. 

Modest compared to last year’s 8.23 per cent Prince Albert Police Service budget increase, this year’s 2.78 per cent increase was easier for council to swallow.

 

The city’s elected officials had little debate following Chief Troy Cooper’s presentation, during which he outlined why the city police budget is what it is.

Cooper was quick to point out the unique challenges that face city police, noting that the crime severity index for Prince Albert is the sixth worst among Canadian cities with a population of 10,000 or greater.

“A violent crime or a crime that would result in a longer penitentiary sentence or whatever is given more weight,” Cooper explained, noting that Prince Albert has a particularly high violent crime rate.

Prince Albert’s crime severity index is 203.21 -- a weighty number when compared with Saskatoon’s 117.43 or Regina’s 120.17.

Three comparably-sized communities also have significantly lower indexes, Cooper said, noting Fredericton N.B.’s 75.23, Midland Ont.’s 89.92, and Moose Jaw’s 105.25.

Canada’s overall crime severity index is only 75, he told council.

Servicing a population area of about 150,000 people, Cooper said that city officers face a harder workload than many of their counterparts in other cities.

About 34 per cent of the people police deal with aren’t from Prince Albert, he said, calling a large portion of Prince Albert’s population a “transient” one.

“That creates a weak sort of social fabric, and a weak community attachment, which can lead to increases in certain types of crime,” he said.

Serving 150,000, Cooper said that he also recognizes that a large group of people is “being serviced on the backs of a small amount of taxpayers.”

Bylaw provides some low risk policing at three-quarters of the cost of a police officer. Although we don’t use them for policing, they address the social determinants of crime and some of the root causes of crime. Troy Cooper

City coffers pay for about 80 per cent of the police department’s annual budget.

City police -- already the lowest paid in the province -- are using bylaw enforcement officers to help lower their costs.

“Bylaw provides some low risk policing at three-quarters of the cost of a police officer,” Cooper summarized. “Although we don’t use them for policing, they address the social determinants of crime and some of the root causes of crime.”

Increased bylaw enforcement in the downtown core appears to have helped lower crime in that area, he noted.

The city police department will continue to look to the province for additional funding, Cooper said, noting that one area they hope to add officers will be in traffic enforcement.

On Thursday, council approved a 2014 police budget of $14,297,390, including $144,370 in cost increases for operating and $245,000 in capital requirements.

The Prince Albert Police Service increase of 2.78 per cent is significantly lower than Regina’s 5.5 per cent increase, Moose Jaw’s 4.1 per cent increase and Weyburn’s 4.8 per cent increase.  

Most city departments compartmentalize their capital requirements separately, city finance director Joe Day said, noting that the city police department does not.

If treated like other city departments, the police budget is only going up by one per cent, this year. 

Organizations: Prince Albert

Geographic location: Regina, Moose Jaw, Saskatoon Midland Canada

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