Calgary

Calgary Police Service says hiring is top priority as budget debate looms

Deputy Chief Paul Cook spoke to reporters on Friday to address questions about the service's four-year budget request. He said they're short about 100 officers at the moment.

More bodies and different ways of working could help low morale, says Deputy Chief Paul Cook

Deputy Chief Paul Cook talks to reporters about the Calgary Police Service's proposed four-year budget. (Kate Adach/CBC)

The Calgary Police Service says one of its top priorities is ensuring it has enough officers to improve working conditions.

Deputy Chief Paul Cook spoke to reporters on Friday to address questions about the service's four-year budget request.

He said they're short about 100 officers.

"In basic terms, what we'd like to do is have three classes of recruits in class at any given time and as our attrition continues, as recruits come out, we remain fully staffed," he said. 

"That is the ideal place we want to be at the end of this four-year cycle."

Cook said each class typically has 24 recruits. 

"Staffing, we believe, is certainly adding to the morale issues that we have within our service right now," he said. "We are understaffed in a multitude of areas."

Low morale

CBC News has reported on the issues faced by members of the CPS, speaking to multiple front-line officers about a workplace some described as in "crisis."

There was also the issue of the service's new civilian head of HR quitting just months into her tenure. She told CBC News she left due to the dictatorial-style leadership.

Those accounts were supported by a recently released CPS employee survey where only four per cent of respondents said they strongly agreed morale is good within the service. Another 20 per cent said they moderately agreed moral was good at work.

"I think, first and foremost, we remain very appreciative of our members being so honest and candid with their responses within that survey," said Cook. 

"And I said to council earlier, in September, I don't think we can ever minimize the morale issues that we're facing right now as a service."

He said the service wants to be able to hire 72 recruits ahead of ongoing attrition, as opposed to the current policy, which allows them to hire 48.

The numbers

Cook described the proposal, which doesn't stray too far from 2018 funding levels, as a "maintenance" budget. 

For each of the next four years, the service's combined operating and capital requests are:

  • 2019: $428 million.
  • 2020: $416 million.
  • 2021: $465 million.
  • 2022: $436 million.

That includes $11 million for replacing the service's two helicopters and $32.5 million for a new district headquarters. 

Cook said they're also looking for ways to reduce the number of calls police have to attend and to maximize their resources to reduce workload.

One option is to reduce the number of non-injury motor vehicle crashes attended by officers, sending those involved to district offices instead. 

Council will debate and finalize the city's overall four-year budget during the last week of November.

Clarifications

  • An earlier version of this story said a recent CPS employee survey indicated only four per cent of respondents said morale is good within the service, while in fact the survey said four per cent strongly agreed morale is good and another 20 per cent moderately agreed.
    Nov 16, 2018 6:14 PM MT

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Drew Anderson

Former CBC digital journalist

Drew Anderson was a digital journalist with CBC Calgary from 2015 to 2021 and is a third-generation Calgarian.

With files from Kate Adach

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