Lethbridge police seek funding boost to expand services

Click to play video: 'Lethbridge police ask for more funding in 2019-2022 budget proposal' Lethbridge police ask for more funding in 2019-2022 budget proposal
The Lethbridge Police Service and Commission presented the city's finance committee on Monday with their four-year operating budget for 2019 to 2022. New program initiatives and an increased budget are on the table for council approval. Malika Karim reports – Nov 6, 2018

The Lethbridge Police Service is asking city council for funding to help combat pressures related to things like cannabis legalization and opioid and methadone policing.

The police chief put the request to the city’s finance committee on Monday, ahead of upcoming municipal budget deliberations commencing Nov. 19.

“We’ve engaged [a] couple of consultants to really do an analysis of our data to determine when we need police officers working, what the scope of that looks like, and so we’ve really crunched the numbers,” said Lethbridge Police Chief Robert Davis.

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Lethbridge police are now looking to implement new program initiatives to enhance service, but that will cost taxpayers.

“The new initiatives, at the end of 2022, would be an additional $3 million,” Davis said. The two big programs are the addition of Community Peace Officers or CPOs and the implementation of an ambassador watch program, he said.

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The watch program would be robust, guaranteeing visibility in the city from April to October every year.

Davis added that the addition of CPOs made the most financial sense.

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Hundreds flock to 1st Lethbridge cannabis retailer for grand opening – Nov 5, 2018

“By going the CPO route, if we were to compare that to going with a regular police officer, it’s approximately $3.3 million in savings,” Davis said. “The nice part with CPOs is that we control the scope of their duties. A lot of the calls we get in the downtown are really around trespassing, public intoxication, public nuisance — things that the CPOs are better equipped to deal with. Then the regular officers can deal with the more serious incidents.”

Funding the new initiatives would increase the police budget by 0.52 per cent per year for four years, costing taxpayers about a dollar more per month.

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If approved, the total LPS base budget increase would be 2.12 per cent per year.

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