A new unit is being established within the Lethbridge Police Service which will focus primarily on enforcement.
Chief Scott Woods made a presentation to City Council Monday (Dec. 9) saying this Crime Suppression Team (CST) will consist of 8 officers already within the service.
He says everything is on the table as to how this unit will be put together. “We are going to have to look at where were are going to pull people from. We’ve got some people off on some different forms of modifications in their duties. Maybe we can use some to backfill some of the resources that we are going to pull into areas that we need resources in order to make the team functional.”
Woods told Council he didn’t feel simply hiring 8 new officers at a cost of $3 million would do much to tackle the problems. Council had asked the police commission a few weeks ago to look into the cost and report back, however Woods didn’t feel that is something the LPS needs right now, especially noting it would take two years to recruit, hire, train, and finally have the officers out working.
“I feel that would be a bandaid approach,” says Woods. “We need to focus on the issues and putting more staff on the frontline, although we need more, is not going to solve anything. Our officers are responding to all kinds of calls on shifts and in my opinion this is not going to address what we need to address and that’s the problem behaviours and the increase in crime.”
New officers will have to be hired in the future though to fill positions which will be moved over to the CST. That would be phase two of this plan, however the Chief feels this new Crime Suppression Team will be up and running in about a month’s time. He feels it will have a positive impact as well.
Woods says this will be “an overt and covert unit” focused on the behaviours associated with some of the issues that we are seeing around the city.
The Crime Suppression Team will immediately focus on things like lower level drug dealing, property crimes, break and enters, vehicles, and prowlings.
Councillors also asked about the cost of overtime to the Lethbridge Police Service. Woods said it averages out to about $1 million a year over the last few years, but again he did not feel adding 8 additional officers to the ranks now would have an impact on overtime costs.