LETHBRIDGE, AB – Lethbridge residents can rest assured there won’t be an impact to policing services, at least not for the next few years.
City Council was told this week that core policing will stay intact, despite a major budget reduction to the Lethbridge Police Service.
Council voted late last year to cut the LPS budget by $1 million in order to save money and try and find ways to operate more efficiently financially. That decision was not unanimous as some Councillors disagreed with going down this road.
Councillors were told this week by Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh that the Police Commission will use what’s known as Budget Appropriation Unexpected funds, like a reserve fund, to cover the shortfall.
“We will continue to deliver the services that we have been,” said Mehdizadeh. “There is no reason to cut programs when we have savings that we can use.”
That means no reduction in actual policing services to Lethbridge residents this year or in 2022. However, after next year, that could very well change when those funds run out.
The Chief says if any policing programs need to be cut in the future as part of the budget, those would be programs not critical to core policing.
The Chair of the Lethbridge Police Commission also spoke to Councillors on Tuesday. Robert van Spronson reiterated that core policing needs to remain.
“We are committed to providing a high level of service to the citizens of Lethbridge,” van Spronson told Council. “In order to do that we believed we shouldn’t be dropping below the 173 police officers serving our city. With the increase in the drug trade that Lethbridge has experienced so far, the Commission realizes that now is not the time to reduce police service.”
The Police Commission and LPS had be asked to appear before the end of February 2021 to City Council with a plan on operating with the $1 million budget reduction.