Police Services Seeks Budget Increase
With an operating budget request of over $9 million it is the largest component of the City’s Operating Budget and this years budget is no exception as the Moose Jaw Police Services (MJPS) appeared before Budget Committee to present their operating and capital budgets.
Appearing before Budget Committee in an uncharateristic civilian suit and tie and not his dress police uniform, Rick Bourassa Chief Chief of MJPS outlined the force’s request.
Calling it a strategic budget Bourassa requested $9,809,647 an increase of 3.35 percent over 2018.
MJPS Budget calls for a 4.30 percent or $458,373 increase in expenditures to $11,116,746 in 2019 but the amount is reduced with a projected increase in revenues of 12 percent or $140,000 bringing in total revenues of $1,307,099. By deducting the revenues of $1,307,099 from the overall expenditure the required contribution for the operating budget is $9,809647 which is a $318,373 or 3.35 percent increase from 2018. See graphic above.
The MJPS Budget request is equal to 22.6 percent of the City’s overall Operating Budget.
Salaries of $8,002,884 make up the largest portion of the MJPS’s Operating Budget. An increase of $388,298 or 5.10 percent from 2018. Five positions on the force are fully funded by the Province. Moose Jaw’s per capita number of police is the lowest of the major cities with 168 officers per 100,000 residents.
“Its a very strategic budget we put forward.” the Chief said, adding the proposed budget employed “efficiency and effectiveness largely by increasing our collaborative partnerships.”
Chief Bourassa would go on to speak about the enhancements MJPS was instituting and how they would benefit the force.
Those partnerships included Combined Traffic and Safety Response Team, a South Central Child Protection Service Team, and the Police And Crisis Team (PACT).
Chief Bourassa said although police are seen as fighting crime in reality that only takes in 25 percent of their time and 75 percent relates to other factors. By legislation it is MJPS’s responsibility to be involved in more than crime fighting.
Speaking about the local crime rate Chief Bourassa said Moose Jaw was in the middle of the pack on a province-wide basis.
He spoke about the two indexes developed by Statistics Canada - the Crime Severity Index (CSI) and the Violent Crime Severity Index (VCSI). Both are weighted indexes which assign a score to crimes based upon their severity to give a better indicator of the true severity and nature of crime.
Chief Bourassa said for example a shoplifting might have a score of one on the Index while a murder might have a score of 1,000 instead of just combining both offences and counting each as one separate occurrence.
Although the CSI did not have any major problems, the VCSI did go up, he said.
“Where we did see some challenges was in the Violent Crime Severity Index,” Chief Bourassa told Budget Committee.
In 2016 the CSI was 116.99 in 2016 and dropped to 107.49 in 2017. The VCSI was 88.48 in 2016 and dropped to 72.78 in 2017. Although both indexes dropped from 2016 to 2017 both indexes are now over a year old as they are not released until June each year. Crimes involving violence in 2018 have yet to be factored in and this year there were two murders in the community.
SEE RELATED - Crime Rates
We are not an anomaly,” he said, adding throughout the Province there has been a spike in violent crimes.
Chief Bourassa said there was “a lot of speculation in what is driving it” says one factor is a cultural shift towards acceptance of violence.
“There is also an increase in drug use and we are seeing an increase of crystal methamphetamine we are seeing here,” the Chief said, adding “we have certainly seen an increase of firearms use (in crimes).”
MJPS has worked with other police services due to the transient nature of individuals involved in drug trafficking, he said, adding often times guns and crystal meth have been seen in combination.
Photo Radar was praised by the Chief for its deterrent effect and reduction in collisions and injuries especially at the intersection of 9th Avenue NW and the Trans Canada Highway.
“Its been very, very effective in reducing the number of collisions, the severity of collisions and we have not seen a fatality since it has been out there (at the intersection of 9th Avenue NW and the Trans Canada Highway.”
There was a reductions of tickets to 9,225 in 2017 but up until October there had been a spike to 15,961 tickets.
“The number of violations who live in the province are down…a huge number of the violations are from people from out of province.”
The Combined Traffic and Safety Response Team has seen two vehicles and four officers dedicated to not only patrolling the city for 70 percent of the time but also seen Moose Jaw officers out patrolling in rural areas for 30 percent of the time.
“You will see a lot of Regina police cars in Moose Jaw and they do a lot of projects here,” Chief Bourassa said.
In turn Moose Jaw officers have been part of projects in an area which stretches from the Alberta/Saskatchewan border in the west, the US/Canada in the south, north of Chamberlain in the north and past Regina in the west.
The regional police force concept is fully funded by the Province.
“We see a net benefit from it, it is a very good project,” he said.
Since October 22nd MJPS has been involved in PACT. PACT is where police team up with mental health workers to intercede in issues involving people involved in mental health crisis situations.
“It is certainly new to Moose Jaw. Since October 22nd in the the first three and a half weeks the need is definitely there for the unit. (Since their inception) there has been 35 instances where they interceded, Chief Bourassa said.
So far PACT has reduced the number of mental health calls by 50 percent. It has also reduced the number of people needing to attend the hospital by 50 percent by interceding early in a crisis and additionally reduced wait times at the hospital.
MJPS has had to work with other police services and agencies outside of Moose Jaw due to the nature of drug trafficking and there has been crystal meth and guns combined together in crimes, he said.
In order to ensure there is always a canine unit available the forces canine unit has grown from two to four. There is a new pup on training at the present time and two more will be training in the Spring, Chief Bourassa reported.
Mayor Frasier Tolmie said “there are stresses this community is dealing with and we need to deal with this head on - this Meth issue.”
For More Information on the rise of meth in Moose Jaw read MJ Independent’s multi-part series Meth in Moose Jaw, its start, its effects and who it is effecting.
Chief Bourassa said a big responsibility was insuring good mental and physical health for all MJPS members. There are regular meetings for members in high stress areas to help take care of issues before they become major issues, he said.
Under the Police Services Act the employer of the police is the Moose Jaw Board of Police which is a body independent of Council. They are in reality the employers of the MJPS and each year they are required to bring a separate budget to Budget Committee which can be approved or sent back to determine if any changes can be made to it.