Police budget proposes 1.54 per cent increase

The Prince Albert Police Service has requested for an extra $267,290 in their 2022 budget proposal, which would result in a .84 per cent mill rate increase.

Police Chief Jon Bergen made the request during the first day of city budget meetings on Wednesday.

Expenses include $26,000 to replaced desktop computers, which are on a five-year life-cycle, $15,000 for in-car camera replacements, $75,040 for the Downtown Sub-station principal payment, and $26,500 to fund two new police service dogs for early 2022.

PAPS currently has three police dog teams, but Bergen said they’d like to have four. They also have to replace another police dog set to retire.

“We currently have three dog teams. That’s the most we’ve ever had in Prince Albert and our goal is to within the next calendar year to bring that to four,” Bergen told council.

The service also anticipates a $282,600 increase in salaries wages in benefits, but expects to save roughly $50,920 as COVID-19 protocols are relaxed, along with $70,000 from a 2022 fleet reduction. According to Bergen’s budget presentation, the province funds 22 officer positions at $110,000 per person, while SGI funds three positions at $120,000 per person.

Earlier this year, the city agreed to fund four additional officers to create a Proactive Policing Unit at a cost of just over $500,000.

“It was to focus on those systemic issues or problematic addresses that keep us coming back and back to the same addresses,” said Bergen.

The unit is just getting started but they are seeing positive results, he said.

A project started last year that created two Community Service Officers that respond to calls that don’t require fully trained officers, such as minor vehicle collisions, is proving itself.

“It supports our front line patrols in a really efficient, effective way,” Bergen said.

“They support our front line operations by responding to calls for service that are of lesser danger and don’t require a fully trained officer.”

A partnership with the Sask. Health Authority and Parkland Ambulance two have paramedics stationed in the detention area overnight will end in March 2022 and has no budgeted funds allocated.

Council had a few questions for Bergen, focusing more on how the City can help the service be more effective.

A major topic was what affect alcohol and drug addictions and dealing with related issues has on police operations and how it can be mitigated.

“We’re dealing with more social issues in Prince Albert than the rest of Canada,” said Coun. Blake Edwards.

PAPS houses about 6,000 prisoners annually, with about one-half of the arrests they make directly related to intoxication.

Talking the province about dealing with addictions as a health issue when possible has not resulted in any action, he said, and added that the city should advocate not only to the province, but also the federal government

“We as a council, we need to make that push. When you talk to the province, they step away and I don’t know why,” Edwards said.

Mayor Greg Dionne said his office is planning to be part of a study that will look at alcohol related arrests.

Council voted in favour of adding the total funding request of $17,605,140 to the final budget.

Editor’s Note: a previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the Prince Albert Police Service was looking to add two Community Safety Officers in 2022. Those officers are already in place. The previous version also incorrectly stated that renovations were planned for the main police building in 2022. Those renovations have already been completed. The Daily Herald apologizes for the errors.

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