The Saskatoon Police Service is hoping to add six officers.
The board of police commissioners approved the request, along with the addition of two legal staff, Thursday. These and other changes will add $3.3 million to the service's annual operating budget of roughly $84 million.
City council still needs to approve the new budget.
Police Chief Clive Weighill said the approval "sends a strong message" to the public that crime is being taken seriously. It will also indicate to existing officers that their work is valued.
The Saskatoon StarPhoenix
Mayor Charlie Clark acknowledged that hiring six new officers won’t reverse Saskatoon’s troubling crime rate, but said he believed the police chief when he said the officers are needed.
“Hiring more officers is not an answer to stopping crime,” Clark said shortly after the board of police commissioners’ meeting Thursday.
“We have increased calls for service throughout the city. We need enough officers to respond.”
The board approved a $3.3 million budget increase for 2017, including the addition of six new officers — four patrol officers and two new detectives. The department is set to spend a record $96 million next year, while collecting about $10 million in revenues.
The Saskatoon Police Service is one step closer to getting a roughly $3.32 million budget increase for 2017.
Police Chief Clive Weighill presented his funding request to the board of police commissioners on Thursday afternoon.
They ended up approving the largest of three options he presented to the group.
City council will have to decide whether to give the Saskatoon Police Service additional money in next year’s budget.
The board of police commissioners approved a request Thursday for an extra $3.3 million to hire four new patrol officers and two detectives.
The budget also includes additional medical staff in the detention unit and a lawyer and privacy officer to facilitate freedom of information guidelines. It's a 3.9 per cent increase over the 2016 budget.
Mayor Charlie Clark says it's important to find efficiencies within the police service to tackle crime, but there is also a need for more officers as the city grows.
“As I’ve said during the campaign, and I believe, we are not going to be able to arrest our way out of crime,” Clark said.
“At the same time, as the city grows and as we add new neighborhoods, we do have to add a certain number of officers to make sure we can keep on with our patrol.”
Clark says a police service review will be tabled in the future that will offer insight into how the service can operate more effectively.
City council will begin budget deliberations on Nov. 30.
Saskatoon's Board of Police Commissioners is recommending that city council approve the hiring of six new officers for the Saskatoon Police Service.
The board voted unanimously following a presentation from Chief Clive Weighill on Thursday. Of the six new hires, four would be added to patrols on the east side of Saskatoon. The other two would be detectives.
Weighill told the commissioners that Saskatoon is seeing a rising number of calls in the city's east end as neighbourhoods there have grown.
Weighill said the city is also feeling the effects of a spike in crystal meth use across Western Canada. He said the drug is often found fueling petty thefts, break-ins, armed robberies and home invasions.
"Six officers are not going to change the world. But six officers will help us maintain our visibility on the streets and the two positions within criminal investigations will help us with some of our covert activities," he said.
Mayor Charlie Clark said he came into the meeting with concerns about rising costs. Even so, he said he voted in favour of getting the officers hired as soon as possible because it's clear they are needed.
You can download a copy of the Police Operating Budget Estimates here (PDF).
Please find the full agenda and reports here (PDF - 37MB) on the City of Saskatoon's website.