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Union raising concerns about cuts to Halifax police budget

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

The union that represents Halifax police is urging HRM Council to reject cuts recommended by the Board of Police Commissioners until a proper review can ensure that cost-saving measures protect essential policing services.

Halifax Regional Police chief Dan Kinsella proposed on May 11 to cut a $5.5 million in spending to offset the costs that COVID-19 is incurring for the city’s finances.

Kinsella said the cuts will create gaps inside the police service but will not affect public safety, while the Halifax Regional Police Association (HRPA) sees the cuts as a concern.

READ MORE: Cuts to Halifax police budget won’t jeopardize public safety: Chief Kinsella

“Over the past 20 years, service requirements for HRP have increased from 50,000 reports per year to 100,000 reports per year (2019) but during the same period of time the number of front-line officers has only increased from 420 to 519 (2019),” said Sgt. Dean Stienburg, president of the Halifax Regional Police Association, in a statement released on Tuesday.

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“Additional cuts as proposed will result in significant reductions in service, to the detriment of the citizens of HRM.”

The president also noted that the Board of Police Commissioners did not have adequate information to recommend cuts to City Council.

READ MORE: Halifax police board of commissioners approves $5.5 million in budget cuts

“There was no report or information provided on where vacancies would be or what vacancies would be filled and by what means,” Stienburg said.

According to Stienburg, the vacancies will result in the reduction of School Resource Officers and Community Response Officers.

In addition, Stienburg said there are a number of officers who were off work as a result of contracting COVID-19, and others are off due to the additional stressors of the job.

The president stressed that there will be added pressures on the department, which is already facing normal vacancies caused by retirement, injuries and illnesses.

READ MORE: Cities and towns in Atlantic Canada feeling cash crunch from COVID-19: Savage

“We will continue to hold the front lines for public safety [during COVID-19], but we cannot hold them if we are not there.”
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As a result, HRPA said it has offered up suggestions and changes that will provide more savings while minimizing the need to create vacancies.

“We just need someone who is willing to discuss these issues with us and to consult in a meaningful way. To date, this has not happened,” Stienburg said.