Sunday, September 24, 2023

City Council asking Police Commission to look at hiring more officers

A report is expected to come back to Lethbridge City Council no later than Dec. 9 from the Police Commission, looking at the cost and other requirements needed in order to hire eight more sworn officers.

Councillor Blaine Hyggen said he’s been getting hundreds of frustrated emails about a recent influx of crime in the city, and brought a motion forward at Monday’s (Oct. 28) meeting in an effort to get more boots on the ground to help out already overworked officers.

“I’ve really dived a lot deeper into some of the past costs of some of the budget items that have come forward and the cost to have overtime, and how that overtime cost is quite high,” Hyggen told local media.

“I’m hoping that with the drop of overtime and the reduction of those that are on leave, that we can have more feet on the street for minimal cost.”

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If implemented, this would be in addition to the downtown Watch program and Community Peace Officers (CPO), who will be hitting the streets in just a few weeks.

Peter Deys, Chair of the Lethbridge Police Commission, says the commission understands the public safety concerns and will explore all options.

“I think the challenge is that the commission is given an envelope of money to use by City Council. If you’re to look at the average cost of $150,000 to have a full constable on the street per year and you multiply that by eight, you’re looking at $1.2-million. But the commission will take a look at that, and if the City would like to provide more money for that, we can do that.”

Deys adds that another option would be to make some of those CPOs full-time positions.

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