City council supports a high level review of police governance models

Council explored various terms of reference for a review

City council opted to support a resolution that will see a ‘high level’ review of policing and governance models during Monday night’s meeting.

The review, which will include taking a look at the option of having a municipal police force, could cost up to $200,000.

During the course of discussion, Coun. Dianne Wyntjes said that the more data council can garner about policing and which subsequent steps to take, the better.

“If we are sincere about exploring our governance models, let’s not be afraid of information – this is not an easy process. This will be complex. This will be a significant decision for our community.”

Council had tabled a decision on the resolution back in early January in favour of holding a workshop to further explore the issue.

During this week’s meeting, several councillors said that concerns over crime in the City were top of mind amongst voters during the last campaign, and those concerns continue to surface currently.

Mayor Tara Veer said that over recent years, the landscape has changed as to what the City deals with in criminal activity.

“The buying power of provincial grants has diminished because those grants have not kept pace,” she said. “And above all, the complexities of crime, and the social dynamics of crime have changed so substantially.

“If this is an area where council wants to move forward and be transformative, and to establish a level of service and fund a level of service that is informed… I think it’s realistic to look at our service and make sure that we are empowering our men and women in uniform to deliver on the expectations of our public. And that we are positioning our City for the future on the other end as well.”

According to council notes, there have been many discussions on how policing should be governed in the community.

“There is a need to clearly define what options are available and how these could be implemented.”

Coun. Vesna Higham said she had hoped the cost could have been cut in half, but that all of council during the last campaign heard from the public that the single greatest issue of concern among citizens was crime and policing.

“One of the most frequent requests from people was for us to look at alternative models of service delivery,” she said, adding that exploring the concept of having a municipal police force was brought forward as well.

“Based on this overwhelming response I feel that I would be remiss as a city councillor elected to represent the community, if I failed to support a motion that reviews a police governance and service delivery model.”

Coun. Ken Johnston said that the community expects him to look at objective, research-based information to make a decision,

“They expect it when I look at amenities, they expect it when I look at the budget, and they surely expect it when I look at something as broad and complex as a policing model and its impacts on our community,” he said.

He said the money spent on the review is appropriate when considering the millions spent annually on the police budget.

“I am very, very resolved that once this study is done we are going to get a vote of confidence, and we are going to be able to enable our community to say we’ve carried forward on the trust you have placed in us. We’ve carried forward on the expectation that we are looking at every possible option, and this is the best decision we can make for Red Deer.”

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