A financial future for Canadian law enforcement
May 23, 2023 By Brittani Schroeder
When I became the editor of Blue Line, it was September 2021, the pandemic was still a big topic of discussion for many people, and calls to defund the police rang out loud and clear in the United States. I wondered just how loud those calls were here in Canada.
This curiosity was piqued yet again mid-2022 after I had a few conversations with Canadian police chiefs about what they felt were the biggest issues in the law enforcement industry at that time. What I heard from multiple chiefs was the need for sustainable funding models for policing in our country.
Over the past year, I kept my eyes and ears open for information on policing budgets, costs for training and technology, recruitment budgets, and so on. A recent story caught my eye concerning the Taber Police Service and the recent body worn camera mandate that came from the Alberta government. Due to the cost of the cameras and the added cost of managing the amount of data that will come from those cameras, many small- to medium-sized police agencies in Alberta may find it hard to find room in their budgets to comply. As Chief Graham Abela of the Taber Police said, “Part of my responsibility is to provide fiscally-responsible policing services, and if we were given the money by the province to pay for the body-worn systems and to manage the program, I think that I’d be more willing to take on the responsibility. I understand that that would be a fiscal challenge to the province, and it’s all taxpayer’s money, but at the end of the day, for our community to fund this, I’m not sure that it’s really necessary.”
Another story I came across focused on the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) retroactive salary decision made by the federal government in March. This retroactive pay period goes all the way back to April 1, 2017. It was interesting to see how the municipalities reacted to this news, wondering where in their city budgets they had the room to cover the back pay for the RCMP officers. Though this wasn’t specifically a policing budget issue, to me, it felt similar to the Taber Police story in the way that the city and the police department both had to figure out what to do after a decision from the government was made and it affected them financially.
New technologies cost the most and, unfortunately, to be a modern public safety service provider, police agencies must find a way to pay for those items.
Finally, I felt I was ready to write a story for Blue Line, and I reached out to Chief Marc Roskamp of the St. Thomas Police Service and Chief Mike Callaghan of the Belleville Police Service to talk about some money matters.
Similar to Taber Police’s Chief Abela and the body worn cameras, both Chief Roskamp and Chief Callaghan said new technologies cost the most and, unfortunately, to be a modern public safety service provider, police agencies must find a way to pay for those items.
I was also able to ask the chiefs about their opinions on if there are better, more effective ways to do business, and what a sustainable funding model might look like in the future. You’ll find some key takeaways in this story, and you can find it on page 8.
As always, if there is a topic that you think we should be talking about, and that fellow officers could benefit and learn from, please reach out to me at any time (email@example.com).
Until next time, happy reading and be well.
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