The Edmonton Police Service has put forward its capital budget request to city council.
The police department is asking for $99.1 million for lifecycle equipment, vehicle and information technology.
Chief Dale McFee said it is crucial for EPS to get the additional funding to meet the city’s needs.
“We just want to make sure we progress and give the service our citizens need,” he said. “We need a reduction in crime, we need better services for social issues and we need to see these things not struggle.
“We base our decisions on community safety and public safety.”
The capital budget also includes an EPS request for about $9 million to install cameras in more than 400 police vehicles. Through a pilot project, 32 vehicles currently have them.
“In-car cameras aren’t just about capturing what’s happening at the time of having the video for a traffic stop or a pursuit,” said EPS’ chief innovation and technology officer Ron Anderson. “It can dramatically reduce the time that we are in court, because if somebody sees they are committing an offence, they are unlikely to fight it.
“There are also concerns from the public for when we do take somebody into custody, (that) we are treating them properly. The in-car cameras are also in the back seat of the car, so we have full continuity.”
This request is separate from the police operating budget that is already approved for 2023 at $418 million.
“The police budget combined is close to half-a-billon dollars,” Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said. “In my mind, that is a sufficient amount of money for (the) service to be allocating on priorities they feel are necessary to keep our communities safe.”
Sohi said the police budget has never decreased for the last 10 years.
“The police budget has increased by 60 per cent,” he said. “I have not seen any other city department increase by 60 per cent.
“It is my personal view that council has shown a strong commitment in the past — and now. We value the police service and the work they do.”
Sohi said even though council values the police service, there are many capital requests to consider.
“There’s only so much money to go around and every organization is going to make tough decisions on reallocating those resources — and police is no different,” Sohi said.