Sudbury, Ont., police board wants 24 new officers, 5.6% budget increase
Sudbury city council will vote on the proposed budget increase on Jan. 17
Sudbury city council will vote on Tuesday, Jan. 17, whether or not to increase the police budget by 5.6 per cent.
If the vote passes, the Greater Sudbury Police Service would have a budget of $72,708,355 for 2023.
A key part of the proposed budget is $327,800 to hire 15 cadets in 2023. Ten of the cadets would start in June, and five would start in September.
By 2025, the police service plans to have 24 new hires. Of those new hires, 18 officers would be out on patrol, four would be added to a new homicide unit and two would be part of the drug enforcement unit.
"My argument is that need is today," Greater Sudbury Police Chief Paul Pedersen told the Police Services Board during a budget meeting on Thursday.
"These are not projected crimes, projected pressures that we expect to come down the road. These are pressures that our people are feeling, that our industry is feeling, that our community is feeling today."
Pedersen said the new homicide unit would meet an immediate need, and would give other officers more time to work on other things.
He said it would take 16 months, though, for new cadets to receive on-the-job training so they are able to work in the field.
According to Statistics Canada, in both 2017 and 2018, one homicide was reported each year in Greater Sudbury. That number increased to three murders in 2019, five in 2020 and six in 2021.
In 2022, police reported 10 homicides, with several murders that happened at the end of the year.
During Thursday's budget meeting, board members cut $690,259 from the proposed budget.
The biggest cost reduction was putting a $500,000 facility reserve contribution on hold for a year. The reserve is set aside for capital projects, such as plans for a possible new police headquarters down the line.
Board members were adamant they did not want to cut the plans to hire 24 new police officers by 2025.
"This board has put forward suggestions to keep our budget as low as we can, keeping in mind our mandate to increase the boots on the ground, as member (Richard) Bois called it," said board member Lise Poratto-Mason.
With files from Sam Juric