Saskatoon

Shortage of police despite request for eight new officers, says union president

The Saskatoon Police Association applauds the request for eight new positions for officers but its president says they are still short almost 40 officers.

Saskatoon Police Association president says more officers needed to monitor safe consumption site

It will cost Saskatoon taxpayers an additional $828,000 in 2020 if city council approves eight new police officers. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

The Saskatoon Police Association applauds the request for eight new positions for officers but its president says they are still short almost 40 officers.

Earlier this week, the Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners unanimously voted in favour of asking city council for eight additional officers.

The additional officers will be used to ensure Saskatoon's supervised consumption site has a smooth opening, while addressing issues in Saskatoon's Central Division, which includes the city's downtown, Pleasant Hill, Meadow Green and Riversdale.

"Observations of other safe consumption sites show the need for a dedicated police allocation to the area," SPA president Dean Pringle said in a email to CBC. 

But Pringle said they will still be short personnel.

"We still need to address the personnel deficiency noted in the 2017 Audit (38 new members) and also account for 1.5 per cent growth per year, which on a population our size, equates to seven additional members a year," he said in the email.

Police resources stretched thin

Eight new additional officers would cost $828,000 in 2020 and $807,600 in 2021.

AIDS Saskatoon's supervised consumption site is already offering outreach, education and a drop-in service, but supervised consumption services are set to start in the new year.

The additional eight officers would be in addition to proposed budgets of $99 million in 2020 and $103 million in 2021, including seven new police officers and various support staff. 

Police Chief Troy Cooper said they would have asked for more officers with or without the opening of the supervised consumption site as police resources are stretched thin. 

City council will debate the ask from police during budget deliberations later this month. Cooper said if the funding is approved, they expect to have the officers in place in the first quarter of 2020.

with files from CBC's Morgan Modjeski

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