Saskatoon

Here's why Saskatoon Police Service is adding 10 new jobs in 2019

A growth in dispatch calls fuelled by "skyrocketing" crystal meth use, plus the recent legalization of recreational marijuana, are being cited as driving factors.

Rising number of calls fuelled by drugs partly to blame, police board says

City councillors unanimously approved 10 new jobs for the Saskatoon Police Service effective in 2019. (Trevor Bothorel/CBC)

A growth in dispatch calls fuelled by "skyrocketing" crystal meth use, plus the recent legalization of recreational marijuana, account for some of the 10 new positions coming to the Saskatoon Police Service in 2019.

City councillors unanimously approved the new jobs Monday during the first leg of their 2019 budget review session.

The 10 additions include three patrol officers and one traffic enforcement officer.

"This is in response to the legalization of cannabis and the need for specialized investigations related to drug-impaired driving," said Carolanne Inglis-McQuay, the vice chair of the Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners.

However, the new patrol members are also needed to tackle a growing number of dispatch calls, "many of them" driven by drug addiction, particularly crystal meth, "and other social issues," Inglis-McQuay said.

'We're quite lean' 

Dispatch calls have increased by nine per cent since 2012, while police staffing increases have lagged behind at six per cent over the same period, she added.

"We're quite lean," Inglis-McQuay said while displaying a chart that showed Saskatoon ranking low in terms of its ratio of officers to citizens.   

A chart shows Saskatoon has a low officer-to-citizen ratio compared with other Canadian cities. (Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners)

Similarly, an increasing volume of 911 emergency calls accounts for why the police service lobbied successfully for a new worker in its communications centre.

Another new position is meant to help wade through the high number of freedom-of-information requests received by the police service.

According to Inglis-McQuay, the Saskatoon Police Service has received 252 requests to date this year, compared with 136 in Regina and 44 directed toward the City of Saskatoon.

Three special constables will replace three police officers in choosing where to strategically deploy patrol officers based on real-time information.

The move is expected to save the police service $100,000, Inglis-McQuay said.   

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Guy Quenneville

Reporter at CBC Ottawa, originally from Cornwall, Ont.

Story tips? Email me at guy.quenneville@cbc.ca or DM me @gqinott on Twitter.

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