15 more officers on the way after Saskatoon approves police budget
SASKATOON -- City Council approved the hiring of 11 new police officers for 2020 and four additional officers in 2021 at budget deliberations on Monday.
Eight of the officers are in response to a supervised consumption site slated to open in Saskatoon’s Pleasant Hill neighbourhood - an area already a source of many calls - though Saskatoon Police Service Chief Troy Cooper said he would still be making the ask even if it wasn't.
“We have an increased level of calls, increased seriousness of calls and there are challenges this budget will address,” he told council. “If it turns out we require less officers in the area, then it means we could deploy them elsewhere.”
The additional eight officers will cost $1.6 million over the next two years.
He told Coun. Sarina Gersher service would be degraded if the eight officers weren't approved.
“We expect to see increased calls of all types in the area. We likely wouldn’t have a proactive response, it would be reactive.”
Cooper said his goal is to have eight officers patrolling the site 24 hours a day, seven days a week, though officers would not run security there.
His officers would be responding to calls to the site as well as responding to calls in the Pleasant Hill area, an area that currently pulls resources from other areas of the city, he said.
Cooper also pointed out how Saskatoon is below the national standard of 185 police officers per 100,000 population, at 173 officers per 100,000.
These increases in frontline staff would put Saskatoon at 176 officers per 100,000, he said.
The police budget also includes more support staff, including communications staff, a clinical psychologist and a programmer analyst.