PAPS plans new proactive policing strategy

Prince Albert Police Chief Jon Bergen speaks to media during a press conference in March 2021. (Peter lozinski/Daily Herald)

The Prince Albert Police Service (PAPS) is going ahead with plans for a new multi-year strategy that would see four additional police officers on patrol in Prince Albert focused on proactive policing and addressing local crime trends.

The plan will target property crime, gang activity and violence.

Following approval earlier this month by city council to fund four additional police officers through a new $35 base tax, the Prince Albert Board of Police Commissioners approved a proposal from the police service at their meeting on Thursday outlining a strategy to proactively address crime trends and problem addresses in our community.

The new funding is expected to generate $554,000 annually toward the multi-year proactive policing strategy to target crime trends and assist other units where additional enforcement or investigative efforts are needed.

“Proactive policing continues to be a priority for the police service as we work to not only respond to crime in our community, but do more to address violence and crime stemming from addictions, mental health crises, and social health concerns,” Prince Albert Police Chief Jonathan Bergen said in a release. “A multi-year proactive strategy will give the police service more resources to deploy officers to preventive policing initiatives, better support members on patrol and enhance our overall service to the community.”

The multi-year strategy will compliment work being done by members on patrol and in other targeted enforcement units including the Integrated Crime Reduction Team (ICRT), Street Enforcement Team (SET), Prince Albert Integrated Intelligence Unit (PAIIU), Crime Suppression Team, Community Policing Unit, Criminal Investigations Division (CID), Child Protection Unit and the Police and Crisis Team (PACT).

Two Community Safety Officers (CSO) continue to assist members on patrol, responding to calls involving minor vehicle accidents, shoplifting and theft.

Members on patrol routinely respond to a much higher than average number of calls for service from the public when compared to other similar-sized police agencies, many of those involving residents from other communities.

In order to align with the national average for police calls per member, recent data shows the Prince Albert Police Service would need at least 216 officers. The addition of four officers puts the service’s current strength at 104 police members.

Following the approval by the Board of Police Commissioners, the multi-year proactive policing strategy will go before Prince Albert City Council for review and discussion at their next regular meeting on Monday, May 3.

Other aspects of the strategy before the commission on Thursday included the creation of a Police Service Proactive Policing Reserve created specifically for the Multi‐Year Proactive Policing Strategy and any unspent funds from the City funding of $554,000 annually be forwarded to the Police Service Proactive Policing Reserve to fund future years.

“The police service appreciates the continued support from city council in addressing serious crime in our community, and their efforts to work together on enhanced public safety measures for our community,” Bergen added.

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