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Crime

Councillors want review of the decision to close police station in Victoria Park

WATCH: Councillors Jeromy Farkas and Druh Farrell are pushing the city to look at adding a police detachment in the downtown core. As Josh Ritchie reports, the request comes as crime in the area continues to rise and questions linger on safety around the Sheldon Chumir supervised consumption site.

A pair of Calgary city councillors are asking police to review a decision that shut down the Victoria Park police station two years ago.

Councillors Druh Farrell and Jeromy Farkas have joined forces in calling for options that would bring back an inner city police station.

“This issue is not political,” Farkas said, whose ward covers Victoria Park and an area in the Beltline neighbourhood where a safe consumption site is located.

“This is not a criticism of the police, it’s just a fact that some of the issues we’re facing in the downtown are unprecedented,” Farkas said.

“We’re seeing a huge rise in mental health and addiction issues. The safe injection site opened around the same time the Victoria Park station closed.”

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The police act prohibits politicians from telling police what they can do, but council determines the budget for the Calgary Police Service.

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Farkas and Farrell are asking city administration a number of questions, including whether corporate land and lease holdings in the area could be used to assist police in a cost-effective way to bring back a police station.

At a city hall audit committee meeting earlier this month Calgary police deputy chief Paul Cook said an independent service optimization review is underway.

Cook said the police service is optimistic that the review will be able to answer questions citizens may have about Calgary’s police force.

“Are we delivering the services that they expect– and are we at the right places at the right time providing that service?”

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Police are currently using a mobile command centre to cover the area formerly covered by the Victoria Park station, but councillor Farkas says he wants a permanent one.

“I just think there’s an approachability to having that old school brick and mortar police station in your neighbourhood in a way that the mobile command vehicle just can’t meet,” Farkas said.

“The MCV is really intended for extreme disasters and emergency response.”

Farkas says he and Farrell, as well as other inner city councillors, are concerned with the increasing crime rate.

They hope to have some answers from their administrative inquiry before budget adjustments are made in November.

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