Saskatoon police officers redeployed to increase safety
Watch above: Saskatoon’s police chief calls it a tough day as officers are being redeployed to increase street level safety. Wendy Winiewski tells us these changes could come at a price.
SASKATOON – Chief Clive Weighill calls it a tough day for the Saskatoon Police Service (SPS). On Tuesday, top officers from 27 units were choosing which members they can sacrifice and put back on the street.
“We’re in a situation right now where there’s only so many police to go around,” said Weighill. “We’re going to be pulling a few members out of the drug unit, a few members out of the gang unit, maybe the schools, our traffic division.”
Discussions about redeployment began in 2014. Twenty-four officers are expected to be on the street by June. The chief said recent crimes have residents feeling uneasy.
“We’ve had things heat up in the downtown,” he said in reference to a random stabbing outside the Scotiabank Theatre Saskatoon and VIP last month and growing complaints about panhandling.
“There’s a lot of controversy. People are saying they don’t feel safe downtown which means we have to redirect some resources there and we’ve been falling short on our call responses to the outlining areas of the city so we don’t have much choice,” Weighill said at police headquarters on Tuesday.
Watch below: Saskatoon police Chief Clive Weight speaks with Lisa Dutton about the recent shootings in Saskatoon and what might be behind the spike
That’s where the service’s top brass were tasked with re-valuating their own units to find the extra 24 officers. Sgt. Dean Hoover with the integrated organized crime unit cautions redeploying officers from the drug unit to patrol will have consequences.
“If what they want is more officers on the street then by all means, we’ll go on the street,” said Hoover. “If they want us to deal with drugs and people dying out there from taking the fake oxy’s and stuff like that, then we’re going to need more officers.”
But some of those drug and gang issues will be tackled head on because of the extra patrol members according to Patrol Supervisor Sgt. Grant Linklater.
“With more people in a uniform in a patrol car, out there to help respond to calls for service we’re allowed to take that extra time to investigate properly which allows us to maybe work on some of those preventative measures,” Linklater explained.
The redeployment will mean an extra six officers patrolling, per shift. They’ll begin in their new positions as early as June.
Thirty-two officers were redeployed in 2007. Weighill says some of those cuts went too deep and the redeployment had to be scaled back – it’s something the service plans to keep an eye on in the months following the 2015 redeployment.
There are currently 149 members in patrol. The redeployment will give SPS 170 because three of the redeployed positions were already vacant.