REGINA – After nearly two hours of discussion, Regina’s city council voted in favour of increasing the Regina Police Service (RPS) budget.
The budget includes an estimated $80 million in expenditures, with $71.7 million coming from the municipal budget. This represents a $669,300 increase, or 7.9 per cent, over 2015 spending.
As part of the increased spending, eight new patrol officer positions will be created. The first four will be phased in starting on Jan. 1, 2016. The other four will be introduced on Aug. 1, 2016. Other new positions include a business systems analyst and programmer analyst.
For new equipment, $155,000 will be spent on introducing carbine rifles to the RPS. Chief Troy Hagen says Saskatchewan is the last province to introduce these rifles. He said they have several advantages over the currently issued long-guns: shotguns.
Ward Three Councillor Shawn Fraser was the lone dissenting vote.
Four delegates – and their supports in the gallery – appeared before council in opposition of the police budget increase.
“We have the whole circle of councillors except for one basically just praising the police with no criticism and then talking about accountability when they’re shutting down community voices,” said one of the delegates Andrew Loewen.
Loewen attempted to discuss profiling and brutality allegations, but was denied by Mayor Fougere because these police conduct is outside council’s jurisdiction and would discussion violate council bylaws.
Fougere, who is Chair of the Board of Police Commissioners, said police face lots of civilian oversight, including the Public Complaints Commission.
“There’s some frustration of maybe not understanding how that process works for a complaint, but that process is arms length, it’s transparent, and the police service is not involved with that at all,” he said following the budget meeting.