Budget: Council approves 10 new RCMP officers for Red Deer

By Josh Hall (Twitter: @Vancan19)
January 11, 2018 - 6:30pm Updated: January 15, 2018 - 5:43pm

Red Deer will soon have more boots on the ground in a bid to tackle crime. 

City council approved $1.53 million for 10 additional Mounties during Operating Budget debate on Thursday.

Last month, The City announced council would be considering four new officers and two support staff at a cost of $1.5 million. That was revised earlier this week to eight officers and three staff. 

When the item came to the table Thursday, Councillor Vesna Higham asked her colleagues to consider changing the numbers to 10 new officers and zero support staff.

All but Councillor Dianne Wyntjes voted in favour.

It was also agreed that the matter could come back to council at mid-year budget review or during 2019 Operating Budget debate should it become clear that additional support staff are needed.

City Manager Craig Curtis told council that it wasn't necessary this year to upkeep the ratio set out in 2008 of two members (officers) to every support staff.

"We need to make significant gains on behalf of our community on enforcement. I think we've all been hearing that," said Mayor Tara Veer to close debate. "But we also need to be mindful of the fact that over the coming years, our crime rate will go up because there is more enforcement transpiring. We need to identify that now."

Veer also noted there have been investments made towards crime prevention and intervention to get ahead of the curve, something which needs to continue into the future.

Additionally, council passed a resolution Thursday which says the new officers will be deployed to support the priorities which council will identify and establish in the 2018/19 Annual Policing Plan. Curtis had previously stated the additional members should be deployed downtown.

Once hired, the Red Deer RCMP detachment will employ 170 officers, complimented by 93.5 support staff.

Because the additional funding is ongoing, the extra $16,000 in 2018 brings the property tax increase from 2.0 per cent to 2.01 per cent.

Operating Budget debate continues Friday. 

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