Saskatoon police board approves 6 more officers

The Saskatoon board of police commissioners has approved a $3.3-million budget increase to cover 6 new officers and other improvements.

Officers and other improvements to total $3.3-million budget increase

The Saskatoon police service is requesting six additional officers and two legal staff for the coming year. (Trevor Bothorel/CBC)

The Saskatoon Police Service is hoping to add six officers.

The board of police commissioners approved the request, along with the addition of two legal staff, Thursday. These and other changes will add $3.3 million to the service's annual operating budget of roughly $84 million.

City council still needs to approve the new budget.

We need to ensure we have the resources to respond.- Darlene Brander, board of police commissioners chair

Police Chief Clive Weighill said the approval "sends a strong message" to the public that crime is being taken seriously. It will also indicate to existing officers that their work is valued.

"That means so much to our members," Weighill said.

The chief's presentation to the board indicated a marked decrease in crime since 2006. It also showed residents are less concerned about crime than a decade ago.

However, Weighill said crime numbers have "crept up" a bit this year. He worries the surge in crystal meth drug use will mean more crime.

Board members Coun. Darren Hill, Mayor Charlie Clark and Carolanne Inglis-McQuay spoke in favour of the change. Board chair Darlene Brander told reporters she agrees with Weighill that the crime environment "is getting more complex.

"We need to ensure we have the resources to respond," she said.

Focus on the east side

Four of the new officers will cover increased patrols in the growing east side neighbourhoods, says a report. The number of calls in neighbourhoods such as Willowgrove, Evergreen, Stonebridge, Rosewood and Brighton has increased marginally in the past few years.

The police service also requested funding for an additional two constables for its criminal investigations unit: one to work in special investigations and another focused on cyber crime. 

The new hires will include a junior lawyer and an officer to handle freedom of information requests under changes to that legislation, too.

A wider review of police operations is currently underway.