Council to consider adding six RCMP officers for Halifax
The Mounties said they need the extra bodies in the Halifax area to deal with cannabis legalization, outlaw motorcycle gangs and mental health calls.
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Halifax’s Board of Police Commissioners is recommending regional council add six Mounties to the municipality.
RCMP Insp. Robert Doyle made a presentation to the board on Monday, asking for funding for six new officers at a total cost of $877,890 to the municipality.
Doyle cited several reasons for the need to add resources, including the opioid crisis, the “ongoing influx of outlaw motorcycle gangs,” cybercrime, mental health calls, and cannabis legalization.
“I think we’d be naïve to think that the legalization of cannabis isn’t going to have some sort of effect on us and the job that we do,” he said.
“There’s a very high concern in relation to the amount of cannabis that will be used in relation to impaired driving.”
Doyle said if the request isn’t granted, resources would have to come from other areas, like investigating minor crimes or having uniformed officers in schools.
In the report to the board, RCMP said Halifax has the “third highest rate of police strength” among Canada’s 50 municipal forces. There’s a disparity between Halifax Regional Police coverage and Halifax District RCMP coverage, though.
In the HRP regions, there’s one officer per 441 citizens. In the RCMP regions, making up 95 per cent of the geography and 45 per cent of the population, there’s one officer per 965 citizens.
Each RCMP officer costs the municipality $146,315 annually. Doyle said the hiring of the new officers would be phased in, and he couldn’t predict how long it would take.
HRM CAO Jacques Dubé told the board that the cost for 2018-19 would likely be between $225,000 and $250,000 – which would only account for 1.5 officers.
A $250,000 hit to HRM’s budget for next year would mean another 99 cents on the already growing average property tax bill.
“That extra dollar will bring in improved police services,” board chair and Coun. Steve Craig said after the meeting.
“It costs money to run this municipality, and council’s challenge is to keep that at a reasonable pace, a reasonable level.”
Council will debate the added RCMP officers at a budget committee meeting on Feb. 14.