Saskatchewan

'It's becoming a state of insanity': Regina city councillor says ballooning police budgets must stop

Pouring ever-increasing amounts into police enforcement rather than social programs is creating a "state of insanity" and must end, says a Regina city councillor.

Andrew Stevens' comments come amid Black Lives Matter protests and calls to defund police

A Regina city councillor says more money should go to social programs, rather than continuous police budget increases. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

Pouring ever-increasing amounts into police enforcement rather than social programs is creating a "state of insanity" and must end, says a Regina city councillor.

"I'm getting more and more upset about it," Andrew Stevens said in an interview.

"It's becoming a state of insanity where we're OK spending money on a reactive system that doesn't work."

Stevens' comments appear to be the strongest yet from a Saskatchewan elected official since the Black Lives Matter protests and demands to defund police came into the spotlight a few weeks ago.

Regina Ward 3 Coun. Andrew Stevens says it's more important to fund mental health, homlessnes and housing than to increase the police budget. (Alex Brockman/CBC)

Stevens said funding mental health, housing, youth recreation and a host of other areas would make society safer and healthier than police budget increases. He said that money could be used to train civilians to take over non-essential police duties.

"If I had $3 million on the table, I would certainly support putting it into those programs versus the usual annual increase to the police budget," Stevens said.

"We have to build those alternatives as we look at clawing back the need for policing."

Regina's approved police budget for 2020 is $96 million. Stevens said some of that money could be moved to these programs or others that emphasize crime prevention.

Stevens said he has heard city officials say this is impossible because social programs are a provincial government responsibility. He said that's just an excuse.

"We won't spend $2 million on homelessness in Regina because it's not our jurisdiction," he said.

"It needs to be talked about. It's time for the province and the municipalities to start looking at alternatives. We gotta get over this 'It's not our jurisdiction' argument."

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