Nova Scotia

Halifax RCMP pushes to hire 6 more police officers

The RCMP is pushing to hire six new officers for the Halifax region — a request that could cost about $877,000 over the next 18 months.

If approved, the request could cost $877K over the next 18 months

An RCMP inspector says increasing the number of officers in the Halifax region will help reduce overtime. (Robert Short/CBC)

The RCMP is pushing to hire six new officers for the Halifax region — a request that could cost about $877,000 over the next 18 months.

Insp. Robert Doyle presented the proposal today at a meeting of Halifax's police commission, saying that the new positions are needed to deal with an increasing number of complex policing issues.

"From the ongoing influx of outlaw motorcycle gangs, [to] cybercrime, [to] youth [crime]," he said. "And I think we'd be naive to think the legalization of cannabis isn't going to have some sort of effect on us."

The police commission's board members unanimously endorsed the recommendation for the new officers, though approval is still needed from Halifax regional council.

Reducing overtime

The Halifax region currently employs 178 RCMP officers, with a total budget of just over $26 million. No new RCMP officers have been hired in the region since 2010.

During Monday's meeting, Doyle said RCMP calls involving mental health-related issues have increased 40 per cent over the past four years.

Increasing the number of officers will also help reduce overtime, he said.

That will not only mean financial savings, Doyle said, but it will ensure the region's RCMP officers get the necessary time off to "recharge their batteries."

Pending council approval

Coun. Steve Craig, the chair of the police commission, said he's confident Halifax regional council will support the new hires.

"The requirement to have good police services in HRM is something that resonates with all councillors," he said, noting that the cost of the six new officers will be phased in over two budgets.

Board commissioner Carole McDougall said the reasons for hiring the six new officers mesh with Halifax's recently approved public safety strategy.

Doyle said he would not expect the first couple of hires to be in place before late fall of 2018, and it could take the following summer for all six officers to be working in the Halifax district.

Halifax's chief administrative officer Jacques Dubé​ confirmed not all of the $877,000 price tag would have to be added to the city's upcoming budget.

"We would only need about a quarter of that — or $225,000," he said.

The police budget, which encompasses both the RCMP and Halifax Regional Police, is set to be debated by council on Feb.14.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pam Berman

Reporter

Pam Berman is CBC Nova Scotia's municipal affairs reporter. She's been a journalist for almost 35 years and has covered Halifax regional council since 1997. That includes four municipal elections, 19 budgets and countless meetings. Story ideas can be sent to pam.berman@cbc.ca

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