Council approves plan to put 50 new officers on Calgary streets
The Calgary Police Service will be adding 50 more officers to the force after city council approved a report and recommendation on Monday morning.
The service submitted a report to council that outlined a plan to hire an additional 50 officers at a cost of $7.5M per year and the funding will come from revenues generated from traffic tickets.
Over the past two years, the police service has managed to find a number of effiiciencies to save on its budget and says it will continue to seek more in the future.
Currently, 70 percent of traffic fines go to the municipal government, with a percentage of that funneled to the police budget.
Councillors say that the extra funding doesn’t mean that more tickets are being handed out; rather the province increased the cost of fines.
“Really what’s happening is it’s just the additional funds that are coming in from the existing tickets that are occurring. There is not a correlation that we are going out and getting more tickets to get this,” says Ward 1 councillor Ward Sutherland.
"The revenue is not because they're writing more tickets, the revenue is because the province increased the fines and so they have the money. They know that even if they write the same amount of tickets they have more money than they had before and they said let's deploy that to the front line and that's the right thing to do," said Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi.
While the funding for new officers is from ticket revenues this time, Calgary police chief Roger Chaffin says that isn't the main aim of those funds.
"I can't imagine that any of our officers think that this ticket is going to get us another person. We understand that the summonses relate directly to traffic safety and I do talk to our officers that our service has a revenue stream surrounding summonses but that's not their purpose for doing. Their purpose is simply to make a difference in traffic and pedestrian safety in this city."
The new officers would result in a ratio of one officer for every 613 Calgarians, but that figure is still among the lowest officer to population ratios of major cities in Canada.
"We have to watch here in Calgary that we don't kind of go, you know, jerk back and forth between not funding police agencies and then funding them and things like that would be much better if we just had a normal, consistent pattern," said Doug King, Professor Justice Studies, MRU.
The new recruits are expected to hit the streets by next July, but there is no information on where they would be assigned.