Saskatoon’s police chief says there’s no one left to move from administration jobs to street patrols.
Speaking after a Tuesday evening meeting of the Board of Police Commissioners, Chief Clive Weighill said they pulled everyone possible back onto the streets during a redeployment of 16 officers earlier this year.
He said that leaves hiring as the only option for keeping enough officers to patrol a growing city. Previously, Weighill had called for 12 new hires. In a budget proposal submitted to the board, the chief walked that number back to eight.
“I think eight is a fair number. We know that the city is under some financial restrictions right now and we’re a corporate partner within the city,” he said.
Weighill said that ideally, he’d still take a dozen new officers but he wants to see any growth he can get.
“If we don’t grow a little bit this year, then we have to catch up in 2017, 2018 and the costs will only rise higher,” he said.
By law, all police officers have to be trained at the Saskatchewan Police College in Regina. Weighill said that system adds urgency to the new hires. The college only takes applicants in January and August.
“If we don’t hire anybody in 2016… that means we can’t hire anybody until January 2017. Which means (recruits) won’t be out of police college until June of 2017. So that means you’re not going to see any growth in our service for 18 months,” he said.
The timing does offer a window for some budget relief. By splitting the applicants up, taking four in January and four in August, Weighill said some of the cost could effectively be spread into the 2017 budget.
Weighill estimated the cost of the new officers at about $628,000. About $168,000 of that would move to the 2017 budget if council chose to have them split between January and August.
The board forwarded the police service’s proposed budget to council, who will review it as they get set to prepare the 2016 budget in December.