Police forces collaborating to improve, lower cost: chief
December 8, 2022 By Marlo Glass, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Dec. 8, 2022, Saint John, N.B. – Policing is expensive, and it won’t be getting cheaper.
It’s something Saint John Police Chief Robert Bruce states plainly, but says there’s an opportunity for forces to collaborate across the province.
In Saint John, the city’s police force has teamed up with the nearby Kennebecasis Regional Police Force and the province’s Department of Justice and Public Safety on the Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere initiative, or RIDE, aiming to reduce impaired driving during the holiday season.
As well, Bruce said Saint John and Kennebecasis police each send a member to the RCMP’s task force on internet exploitation.
The Telegraph-Journal requested comment from the Kennebecasis Regional Police Force but did not receive a response by press time.
Gary Forward, Woodstock Chief of Police and president of the New Brunswick Association of Police Chiefs, agreed law enforcement agencies across the province “have worked increasingly closer to consider what we are doing well,” while also considering areas of improvement, including “multi-agency partnerships, shared services, intelligence, resource training/development, policy development, and best practices related to retention and hiring of staff,” he said in an email.
Bruce said Saint John police, along with other municipal police forces and the New Brunswick RCMP are also “ironing out the details” of forming a provincial bomb handling team, with municipalities across the province paying into the service to make it “more cost-effective” for everyone.
“The more collaboration, the better,” he said, noting there’s a committee struck between the Port City’s police, Fredericton police, Kennebecasis police and local RCMP, aiming to find different ways to collaborate.
“How can we do better for the province, get a better service and be financially responsible?” he said, noting “nothing is getting cheaper” from salaries and technology to gas.
Earlier this fall, the Saint John Board of Police Commissioners approved the force’s $28.2-million 2023 operating budget, which is a nine per cent increase from the year prior.
More than $23 million of that will go toward officer salaries and benefits, which is a 7.65 per cent increase from 2022.
Another big-ticket item is goods and services, coming in at just under $4.5 million due to increased technology costs and updating a decades-old record system.
While local governance reform efforts mean some police forces will be expanding their service area into nearby communities, Bruce said if a community near Saint John wanted the force to cover their community, they’d be met with a warning: Saint John police are just as pricey as RCMP, he said, and “we all do the same job.”
Collaboration is a way for forces to meet the public’s expectations, he said, which aren’t getting any lower. “And they shouldn’t. There are no boundaries,” he said. “Criminals don’t know any boundaries, and we shouldn’t know any boundaries either. And we should keep funding that knows no boundaries. If we can work together, we can save more money.”
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