LETHBRIDGE, AB – Some tough decisions upcoming for the Lethbridge Police Service and the new Chief after City Council slashed the LPS budget by $1 million.
The reduction was approved this week in the city’s new operating budget.
“This reduction will translate into fewer police officers,” LPS Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh
Chief Shahin Medizedeh says the majority of the police budget is in salaries, so going forward they’ll have to look at running vacancies in certain areas and reducing some programs to make up for the shortfall.
“When you look at a million dollars, this translates into seven police officers that we’re looking at. Again, this is about looking at where we can run those vacancies,” said Mehdizadeh during a local press conference on Tuesday.
Medizadeh says he’s not prepared to have officers do more with less, stressing the LPS will not sacrifice its core policing function. “The community is getting the policing they deserve from core policing, but other programs are subject to review and see where we can make those cuts to come up with the million dollar savings we have to come up with.”
Don’t expect anything to happen to The Watch or Community Peace Officer programs. The Chief says those were additions to the LPS budget and will stay because the community needs them.
Mehdizadeh also doesn’t like the idea of reallocating money from these two programs. “If there is an opportunity to run vacancies, there might be an opportunity to run some vacancies in all areas, but certainly those are not the programs I’m looking at stealing from to make up what we need to do.”
As part of the approved reduction, the Lethbridge Police Commission will have to come back to City Council by the end of February with a plan for operating with less money.
Since the cut in the LPS budget was approved by Finance Committee back in November, the issue has not sat too well with some people in the community and a few on Council. Some residents have pointed out that reducing the police budget is not a smart decision.
The majority of Council, however voted 6-3 in favour of the budget cut.