Police chiefs in Calgary and Edmonton ask for more officers

The chiefs of police from Alberta's two biggest cities asked the province for at least 800 more police officers on Tuesday.

The chiefs of police from Alberta's two biggest cities are asking the province for at least 800 more police officers.

Calgary's Rick Hanson and Edmonton's Mike Boyd met with provincial Justice Minister Alison Redford and Solicitor General Fred Lindsay in Edmonton on Tuesday.

Each chief asked for funding to hire an additional 400 officers over the next three years for their respective forces.

Police officers in both cities have been tackling the growing problem of gang violence.

While Lindsay said he's sympathetic to the challenges, he didn't make any promises about additional officers.

"They're both looking for in the neighbourhood of 400 more bodies and whether that's the number at the end of the day or not, it's certainly what they believe and they're in the best position to analyze their needs and I certainly take their word for that," Lindsay said.

Premier Ed Stelmach will be made aware of the request, said Lindsay.

Following Tuesday's meeting, Hanson said he is confident the province will act, adding it helped having Boyd there to make a joint request.

"It kind of proves our point ... when the chief of Edmonton comes forward and he's asking for the same resources that we're asking for, for a similar sized city, I think it clearly indicates it's not just a local issue in Calgary. It's an issue right across the province," he said. "And Calgary and Edmonton are two-thirds of this province.  We can't lose sight of that fact."

"There's not any disagreement about the need for more police officers ... the question of how many resources we're going to get in each of the communities is what's up in the air," Boyd said.

War of words in Calgary

Calgary city council recently fast-tracked money to hire 201 more police officers.

Over the past month, the premier has twice rejected Mayor Dave Bronconnier's plea for another $25 million to hire an extra 200 police officers.

Calgary's mayor and Stelmach's top aide, Ron Glen, have argued about the issue through the media.

Glen recently told the Calgary Sun that the mayor was guilty of "shameless political grandstanding" when he made his second request for funding on the heels of a shooting that left an innocent bystander blinded. Glen said that if Bronconnier continued the tactic, he will be "waiting until he's blue in the face."

Bronconnier told CBC News on Monday he wants an apology.

"Can you imagine someone threatening the citizens of this community? That if they speak out there will be retribution, they will not receive what funding that is necessary to their community? Is that appropriate?" he asked.