Kitchener-Waterloo

Province needs to step up funding to fight crime, police chief says

Waterloo Regional Police Services Chief Bryan Larkin says the province needs to provide the service with more funding to help combat rising crime rates in the region.

'I believe that we need more. I believe that we deserve more,' Larkin says

Waterloo Regional Police Services Chief Bryan Larkin says he will continue to advocate to the province for increased funding for the service. This year, WRPS is anticipating a $1.4 million shortfall in funding from the province. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

The province can and should be providing more funding to the Waterloo Regional Police Service, says Chief Bryan Larkin.

"I do not believe, and I do not think, that our region and our police service is getting its fair share of provincial funding. I believe that we need more. I believe that we deserve more, and I believe our community deserves that," Larkin said.

He made the comments Friday during a press conference for Project Piece, a four-month investigation into drugs and violent crime in Cambridge. The investigation resulted in 30 arrests and 115 charges, as well as the seizure of weapons, $140,000 worth of drugs as well as fake and real money.

Larkin said violent crime has gone up 15 per cent in the region this year compared to last year. The three homicides in Waterloo region this year have all been shootings.

"We're the 10th largest community in Canada and with that comes the 10th largest community issues," Larkin said.

"We have to recognize that we need to change and invest in policing and public safety much like other large communities."

Money expected next spring

The federal government has promised funding for guns and gangs but that money's not expected to flow until April 2020.

As well, the Waterloo Regional Police Service is still waiting to hear about funding from the province for the 2019 budget. Larkin says they're expecting a $1.4 million shortfall.

The police services board will cover that cost, but the province needs to help, he says.

"That funding impacts our frontline. It was funding, quite frankly, [for] boots on the ground, but it was also funding a number of members who work in our drugs and firearms."

He said delaying funding to the next budget cycle is "not wise."

"We have significant challenges today, and we need to deal with those issues today," he said.

"I always find in policing or in public safety, when you lose a little bit of ground, it's very difficult to make that ground up."

'People must feel safe'

Premier Doug Ford said the province will spread money out to police services to deal with guns when he was in Waterloo region on Aug. 9.

He said his government is working collaboratively with police chiefs to address the rise in gun violence "because it's a big problem."

A spokesperson for the solicitor general said Friday violent crime is an urgent priority for the provincial government.

"On August 26 our government and the federal government jointly announced an investment of $54 million that builds on Ontario's Guns and Gangs strategy and further supports police services, prosecutors, municipalities, community partners in the local fight to protect law abiding citizens and families," the spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

The statement went onto say that the Waterloo Regional Police Service can apply for a number of provincial initiatives to combat violent crime as well as gun and gang violence.

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