Front-line officers won't face cuts, says police chief
Budget proposal includes 5.5 per cent increase for officer salaries
The proposed policing budget for next year will not affect front-line officers, said Halifax's chief of police at a police commission meeting on Monday.
"No front-line impact whatsoever, what it is, is the way that we do policing behind the scenes," said Halifax Regional Police Chief Jean-Michel Blais.
He said he's requesting a 5.5 per cent increase to the policing budget next year for a total of $74 million.
Blais said most of the requested increase would be to pay for a 3.7 per cent increase to officers' salaries.
After five years, a first-class constable makes $86,000 per year. The salary increase alone would account for an increase of $3.3 million.
Halifax Regional Police Association vice-president Trevor Lasseline said the union had feared that as many as 28 police officers could be cut if the proposed budget had requested no increase over the previous year.
"We're buoyed by the news of an over five per cent increase as opposed to credible information that we were looking at a zero budget for the second year in a row," he said.
"By the sounds of it, we'll have those officers [and] have a better opportunity that we're going to be able to break up criminals firing shots at taxi cabs."
The $74-million figure would also include making up for the department's $3.8-million deficit.
Blais said he also wants to improve police technology for items like wire taps in serious investigations as well as funding for high-tech policing devices.
There are currently about 470 police officers employed by the HRM. To save money, the force is looking at converting up to 13 jobs in administration that are now performed by police in uniform to civilian positions.
"The number of people in uniform there will be a reduction as a result of those modifications by seven at this point, and the potential of 13 — but once again that has yet to be determined," he said.
Blais said this proposal is the first step in a three step process and that it's still early in the budget process.
"The first step is to go before the board of police commissioners who will, in turn, make their determination as to the merits of the budget submission," he said.
"It will then be presented to council and then council will then make its determination whether to increase or decrease the current budget or could turn around and ask us to come back with some further information."