Lethbridge police officials are introducing a new idea to city council that would use in-house expertise to combat specific crimes.
The suggestion comes after council asked the commission to explore hiring eight new officers.
At a meeting on Monday, Interim Police Chief Scott Woods and Lethbridge Police Commission chair Peter Deys pushed for support in implementing a Crime Suppression Team (CST) of current officers with experience in surveillance or drug-related offences that would strategically target known or suspected individuals and groups.
The CST would be rolled out in two phases.
Phase 1 would include creating the job descriptions, selecting personnel and implementing the team.
Phase 2 would involve the hiring and training of new replacement officers to fill gaps left behind.
Woods said the new team could offer a more immediate and proactive response than by hiring eight new patrol officers, as previously suggested by council.
“It’s a Band-Aid approach,” Woods said.
Both the plan proposed by police and the one proposed by council would take up to two years to fully implement, at a cost of approximately $3 million, but Woods said the Crime Suppression Team would have a much more immediate impact.
Woods informed council that the police service plans to implement the CST with or without a funding commitment.
Mayor Chris Spearman commented that funding may be a tall order with no additional money for policing coming in from the province.
Council will revisit the question of funding in the new year.