The City’s RCMP can expect a large increase to its members and personnel this year.
City council added to the budget for the RCMP – the biggest increase in the 2013 operating budget.
Council approved a one-time fund of $150,000 and $1.02 million in ongoing funding for the RCMP member fee agreement. Also approved were four new RCMP members and two municipal employee positions at a cost of $533,025 this year and $177,675 in 2014. These employees will be hired as soon as possible.
Also approved were two new safety code officers at a cost of $229,748 and $119,922 for a provincial funding shortfall for the RCMP.
Pending the policing service level review which is set to come to council mid-year, councillors also gave the green light to four new RCMP members, four supervisor positions and four municipal employee positions for a cost of $355,350 in 2013 and $1.07 million next year.
Previously approved in 2012 was a crime analyst which will cost $88,500 and a new Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT) at a cost of $80,000 in 2014 and $140,000 in 2015.
This means a total of 33 new positions for the RCMP in Red Deer.
“I think it was an excellent result and I think it was a product of a lot of the hard work we’ve done with the mayor and council and administration,” said RCMP Supt. Warren Dosko. “We had numerous workshops with them leading up to the budget and worked through some of our challenges. Their decisions were based on some excellent information and appreciating some of the challenges ahead for policing.
“I think the community is going to see a police organization that is in a much better position to respond to their calls for service whether that be a priority one serious call, or a more minor call,” he said. “We know that as a victim of crime, whether it is a serious crime or a minor crime it still has a serious impact on all victims, so I think this is going to give us a much better opportunity to respond to all those types of crimes in our community.”
Councillor Buck Buchanan said council’s approval was a good move for the community.
“I think this is the best way to get the boots on the street and to help deal with the caseloads the members are facing,” he said.
Although approval for funding was given for additional officers pending the policing service level review, Dosko said council could still change its mind.
“That is still going to be up for debate because I think when we go through our service level review with the City, I think we’ll be making determinations of the type of work we need to do going forward and what the right mix of RCMP officers to municipal employees, or bylaw officers or community peace officers looks like,” said Dosko. “It still is somewhat a little vague as we look at the different service level options and who’s best to deliver some of those services to our citizens. I think we still have some work to do around that.”
Meanwhile, the ALERT team, which will work in Red Deer and around Central Alberta, that was approved in 2012 will also benefit the community greatly, Dosko said.
“We took three of our existing municipal resources and put it into that model. Council approved three more and that includes four because one of those was for a January 1st start – so that is four officers dedicated to that with a new one coming in 2014 and a new one in 2015.
“We’ll have six municipal officers dedicated to that and there will be seven provincial RCMP officers dedicated to that with an analyst and another support staff.
“In total the ALERT will be made up of 15 full-time positions,” he said. “They’ve started arriving now. We’re in the process of finalizing the capital improvements in our building to give them a comfortable place to work out of which will be done mid-February. But they have started to do some of the work and we anticipate they will be fully up and running the end of February, the first of March.”
Councillor Chris Stephan was the only opposing vote when it came to the increased budget for the police.