Council not willing to do another police review

  • Dec. 12, 2012 5:17 p.m.

City council voted down a request to take a look at the police service levels.

Councillor Paul Harris put a Notice of Motion forward at this week’s meeting in hopes of gaining a better sense of what the service levels are for the City’s RCMP.

“I put this Notice of Motion out there for a number of reasons. The policing study that we looked at originally was not likely a document that should have determined police resources. We often talk about the per capita cost from municipality to municipality as it relates to policing and there is an assumption in that discussion that crime is equal in every municipality and so we can make a municipality to municipality comparison,” said Harris. “In the same way we talk about the national average – how many police officers should exist on a per capita basis based on the national average.”

He added he has heard from citizens that they are concerned about RCMP follow up when they call with a complaint or inquiry.

“I think it’s important that Red Deer citizens know what to expect from the RCMP and when they’ll follow up and when they’ll not follow up. I have had comments from citizens very recently about the RCMP not following up and not understanding why and when that rationale applies,” said Harris. “Currently we have about 332 case loads in the City per frontline officer which begs the question when we’re looking at other communities which have around 190 case loads or less, what things might be falling off the table in our own community.”

He added as council heads into the operating budget in January, he doesn’t want to allocate any more money to the RCMP without knowing what the service levels are.

“Throughout the country we are seeing crime rates dropping and the cost of policing rising. Going into the budget I have a very high concern that we have as yet undefined service levels that we’re trying to work towards but at the same time we might be asked for new staff without an accurate indication of what those service levels are that we are working towards.

“I think we need to address the service levels before we can allocate any dollars properly. I don’t think it’s fair for our administrative staff or the public to simply increase funding when service level expectations are not clearly defined.”

Fellow councillors were not in favour of Harris’ motion.

“I won’t be supporting this motion. I think it’s important to send the message to the RCMP that we want them to be our service provider,” said Councillor Cindy Jefferies.

Councillor Lynne Mulder was not in favour either.

“I will pull my hair out by the roots if we have to undergo another policing review. We spent $150,000 doing the first one and I don’t think the community would support that again,” she said.

Councillor Chris Stephan said if the City continues to do reviews and studies it will distract from the investment that needs to be made.

“When we did decide, I voted in favour of a having a municipal force instead of the RCMP. But I am comfortable with what council decided (to continue with RCMP services) and I think we should allocate resources where they are needed, not do another study,” he said.

Council defeated the motion in an 8-1 vote. Harris was the only one who voted in favour.

“Even though I would like this review to happen, I’m ok that it’s not. But the community continues to call me and ask why the RCMP are not following up with them. If the current RCMP can’t than we need to find a police service that can,” said Harris.

efawcett@reddeerexpress.com

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