'I would rather be fired': Farkas' police commission tenure ends
CALGARY -- Councillor Jeromy Farkas will no longer serve on the Calgary Police Commission after he says he refused to endorse statements that the "foundation of policing is racist."
The Ward 11 councillor announced his departure from the commission late Sunday night, noting his opposition to council's plan to further reduce the Calgary Police Service budget was a factor in council's decision to vote down his reappointment.
"By courting the 'abolish and defund police' movement, City Council is playing with fire and it's Calgarians who are getting burned," said Farkas in the statement.
"There is no position or title in the world that is worth putting my family, neighbours, and constituents in dangers. I would rather be fired than be made to do or say something that would put Calgarians at risk."
Coun. Farkas' one-year appointment to the commission was scheduled to expire on Oct. 31. He says he wanted to stay on but council voted against it on Oct. 26 during an in-camera meeting.
Farkas adds that Calgary has seen a population growth and therefore a resurgence in organized crime and social disorder driven by economic hardship.
He says the city's $400-million police budget is already stretched too thin and currently makes up about 13 per cent of the city's total spending.
"Despite this, Council would rather cut emergency services than revisit its recent decisions to massively boost the public art, bike lane and communications budgets, to make a few examples."
His removal comes as Ward 8 Councillor Evan Woolley is set to introduce a motion to council calling for five per cent of the police budget to be reallocated over the next two years — $10 million in both 2021 and 2022.
Woolley has the majority of council's support and notes that the funding would be allocated to mental health and outreach services instead of traditional policing.
The original headline of this story indicated Coun. Farkas had been removed from his position on the Calgary Police Commission. The councillor has clarified that his appointment was set to expire on Oct. 31 and council voted against his reappointment to the commision during an in-camera meeting held on Oct. 26.