Saskatoon police chief says spending needed to 'keep up with calls'
Police Chief Troy Cooper says money earmarked for Saskatoon Police Service (SPS) in the proposed city budget will go towards hiring more staff.
The preliminary budget released on Tuesday, recommends $119.7 million next year and $124.6 million in 2023 for SPS — the largest amount of the city’s service spending.
“The primary concern for us right now is the growth of the city. Saskatoon is one of the fastest growing cities in Canada. And so for our frontline officers to be able to keep up with those calls for service, we simply need to be able to increase resources to match the demand for service,” Cooper told CTV News.
Eight new police positions are set to be added in 2022 and four new positions in 2023, according to the proposed multi-year budget.
Cooper said the service is seeing an increase in violent crimes, overdose calls and cyber-related offences.
One of the new roles, a tech crimes special constable, “will help the SPS keep up with the growing and complex investigations where support is required,” according to the proposed budget.
For the first time since 2010, a forensic identification constable would be added in Saskatoon.
Cooper said the constable would be responsible for collecting evidence at crime scenes, often presented at court.
The budget also shows the police workforce isn’t hitting its diversity goals.
SPS has a target to have Indigenous people represent 14 per cent of its force.
But in 2020, only nine per cent of the workforce was Indigenous — a slight drop from the 2019 data, where 10 per cent of the workforce was Indigenous.
Still, SPS identified it is on-track to meet its “representative workforce” goals.
Cooper said SPS has an equity and inclusion director who focuses on ensuring the recruitment practices and employment policies “reflect the community, so that (SPS has) strong community confidence.”
City council has the final say on spending and can make changes to the proposed budget before approving it.
Council will make its final decisions on the budget during meetings scheduled to run from from Nov. 29 – Dec. 1.