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Saskatoon city council approves $8M increase to police spending

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City councillors approved an $8 million increase in spending next year for the Saskatoon Police Service (SPS).

In the first day of budget deliberations, councillors unanimously approved $134 million for police expenditures in 2024 — up from $126 million in 2023.

The city also unanimously approved $141 million for police expenditures in 2025.

The additional funding comes as the city grapples with a funding gap next year that was initially pegged at $52 million.

Three days have been dedicated for councillors to search for savings. To make up the money, the city is looking at all possibilities — including a property tax hike.

Policing represents the largest piece of city spending, at over 21 per cent.

The money for the SPS includes funds for additional body-worn cameras, a new pilot for the police plane and increased fuel expenses.

The SPS is anticipating more calls next year, according to Jo Custead, chair of Saskatoon's Board of Police Commissioners.

“We're anticipating 10 per cent more calls this year than last year,” Custead told councillors.

“The major driver of our workload is social disorder calls for service. One third of the calls we receive relate to things like disturbances or suspicious persons.”

The police service reported a 77 per cent increase in mental health and attempted suicide calls between 2015 and 2022.

Before the budget was approved, a member of the Pleasant Hill Community Association, requested dedicated officers be deployed to the neighbourhoods experiencing “disproportionate levels of crime.”

Shane Partridge asked council for two Alternate Response Officers (ARO) to patrol Pleasant Hill four hours a day, five days a week.

“We can invest in prevention and change the number of crimes being committed,” Partridge told city council.

Chief Troy Cooper said policing and resources aren’t allocated based on community, but rather on the “environment of crime.”

Cooper said the SPS has been working with the Pleasant Hill Community Association “to assess their needs and what kind of resources that might require.”

“There will be an opportunity for some additional resources to be able to plug into communities that are under pressure, certainly Pleasant Hill is one of those,” Cooper said.

There are currently 165 police officers per 100,000 population.

In 2025, the SPS plans to add a special constable in the Tech Crime Unit. The constable would examine phones, tablets and computers used in criminal offences. The increase in electronic devices has driven the workload. Currently there is a one-year backlog for these cases, according to the SPS.

Budget deliberations are set to end on Thursday.  

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