Police budget looks for 1.54 per cent
November 22, 2021 By Canadian Press / Local Journalism Initiative
Nov. 19, 2021, Prince Albert, Sask. – With an extra $267,290 and some money from reserves, Police Chief Jon Bergen plans to expand the canine unit and fund some capital projects.
Bergen said they will increase the canine unit team from three to four. “We currently have three dog teams, that’s the most we’ve ever had in Prince Albert and our goal is to within the next calendar year to bring that to four,” he said.
They also have a plan to renovate their main building to increase its life and use the space more efficiently.
The service has agreed to a new plan that would see members have their ballistic armor replaced every five years, the maximum time the manufacturer will guarantee them for.
The service currently has 105 sworn officers but also has a commitment from province to pay for two more officers in 2022.
PAPS gets funding from a variety of sources with $3.24 coming from the province this year that will pay for 22 positions, including the two additional officers announced last month.
One position is part of the Police and Crisis team that combines an officer with a mental health worker that will respond to calls involving people have a crisis.
The province also allocated new money this year for the Crime Reduction Team with a goal of intelligence gathering on street gangs and associates along with the child exploitation team.
In other areas of the budget, the collective bargaining agreement means a 1.6 per cent increase in negotiated wages or an additional $282,600.
Last year, the city agreed to fund four additional officers to create a Proactive Policing Unit at a cost of just over $500,000.
“It was to focus on those systemic issues or problematic addresses that keep us coming back and back to the same addresses,” said Bergen.
The unit is just getting started but they are seeing positive results, he said.
A project started last year that created two Community Service Officers that respond to calls that don’t require fully trained officers, such as minor vehicle collisions, is proving itself.
“It supports our front line patrols in a really efficient, effective way,” said Bergen in his presentation to council on Nov. 17, the first of four days this week allocated to budget deliberations.
“They support our front line operations by responding to calls for service that are of lesser danger and don’t require a fully trained officer,” said Bergen.
A partnership with the Sask. Health Authority and Parkland Ambulance two have paramedics stationed in the detention area overnight will end in March 2022 and has no budgeted funds allocated.
Council had a few questions for Bergen, focusing more on how the City can help the service be more effective.
A major topic was what affect alcohol and drug addictions and dealing with related issues has on police operations and how it can be mitigated.
“We’re dealing with more social issues in Prince Albert than the rest of Canada,” said Coun. Blake Edwards.
PAPS houses about 6,000 prisoners annually, with about one-half of the arrests they make directly related to intoxication.
Talking the province about dealing with addictions as a health issue when possible has not resulted in any action, he said, and added that the city should advocate not only to the province, but also the federal government
“We as a council, we need to make that push. When you talk to the province, they step away and I don’t know why,” Edwards said.
Mayor Greg Dionne said his office is planning to be part of a study that will look at alcohol related arrests.
This year’s capital budget projects include spending $75,000 to help pay for the downtown substation, computer replacements at $26,000, MDT laptop replacement at $39,000, another $15,000 for in car camera replacement and $20,000 for virtual server replacement.
They also plan to buy two new service dogs for $26,000; one to replace Febee and a dog for the new team.
The service also plans to spend $61,500 on new cell video management replacement.
Bergen said there have been issues but added that there is footage of recent events where two prisoners died after being lodged in the detention area. A third prisoner also died in custody but at Victoria Hospital.
Council voted in favour of adding the total funding request of $17,605,140 to the final budget.
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