News / Edmonton

Edmonton Police budget not enough to address response times: Chief

Edmonton police are seeing both property crime and their response times moving in the wrong direction, but their latest budget won’t do much to address the problem they told councillors Monday.

Rising response times have been a consistent problem for police, as calls to 911 have grown. Police commission chair Shami Sandhu told councillors that without significantly more resources than what they requested in the budget that wouldn't change.

“EPS will be hard pressed to make a significant dent in response times," he said.

Sandhu said the proposed budget, which will add $7.1 million to the department and add 35 positions, isn't enough to deal with the issue.

“I would say it barely holds us steady,” he said.

Police Chief Rod Knecht said the force was aware of the financial pressures facing the city and took that into account.

“This gets us to a better place, but it is not going to get us to where we need to go and we know the pressure the city is under,” he said.

He said property crime is rising, but that's partially because the emphasis the force placed on violent crime, which is seeing a reduction.

“We are doing good in the violent crime because that's where we focused our resources, but property crime got away from us a little bit,” said Knecht.

He said police would likely ask for between 35 and 40 new positions every year over the next few years to deal with growth.

“We are up 5,900 calls from last year and that is not over a five-year period that is over last year,” he said.

Mayor Don Iveson said council will have to watch the statistics closely, but he's pleased the police have brought forward a measured proposal.

“What we are trying to move toward with the police is a steady growth in their staffing that we can manage without a shock to the taxpayer,” he said.

Councillors will finalize the budget later this month.

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