The question of whether the City should look into a hybrid police model turned into a conversation about setting service levels during Monday night’s council meeting.
Councillor Dianne Wyntjes had previously submitted a Notice of Motion asking council to direct administration to explore a model where Red Deer would be served by both municipal police and RCMP. That motion was defeated. Instead, council voted to discuss four items in a workshop which includes updating police priorities, options to improve service levels for Priority 3 and 4 calls, public engagement on crime and safety, in addition to examining alternative police models.
The latter motion was made by Councillor Lynne Mulder, who said models matter, but they’re not the only consideration in addressing crime and public safety.
“We’re looking at a model before looking at service levels. I can’t see that that is the right way to go. I’m not opposed to models. I like models. I’d like us to innovative. I’d like us to be bold but I think we have to do it in sequence,” Mulder said.
Citizen surveys suggest that crime is a top priority for the public. Mayor Tara Veer agreed that a broader conversation is needed. “We needed a more comprehensive solution than giving direction on the model exclusively. The model will be a part of our upcoming discussions and (will be) a very important part of our discussions but there will be other aspects that will be included as well,” Veer said.
In particular, Mulder wants to see greater responsiveness to Priority 3 and 4 calls, which respectively, do not require immediate police assistance and are for information purposes only. Mulder gave the example of a theft that’s occurred. She said citizens are telling her that people want somebody to take their reports.
“If somebody came to my house and took my story down, I’d be much happier about that and I’d feel like I’d been heard and that it was followed up,” she said.
Wyntjes supported Mulder’s motion, saying she looked forward to the discussion. But she pointed out that improving service levels for Priority 3 and 4 calls will take a different approach.
“My colleagues, if it was that easy, it would have been done months ago. Hence the problem. It requires much more and that was that exploration in the terms of reference and digging into what that (hybrid model) looks like,” she said.
“Our boots on the streets are working darn hard and their work is dangerous. And the last thing I want to see is this council directing them to a (Priority) 3 and 4 and they’re already working hard.”
Speaking last week, Wyntjes said her original motion was not meant to be a slight against the RCMP but a call to look into supplementing its service.
“I want to be clear that I recognize the wonderful work the RCMP is doing, but this is a way to augment our policing and safety in our community,” she said. “If we don’t explore it, we’re leaving something on the table that we might regret.”