‘Something has to give’

No decision made on peace officer cut, but….

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

A story surfaced last week in which people were saying the Town of Slave Lake has decided to cut one of its two peace officer positions.

This decision has not been made, Mayor Francesca Ward tells The Leader, because the budget has yet to be approved.

As to how the budgeted money is spent on personnel, Ward adds that is not the purview of council, but rather of the chief administrative officer.

That would be Jeff Simpson. His answer was more or less the same as the mayor’s; the budget is due for approval at the Feb. 20 council meeting, he said, and that’s when such matters will become public.

The Leader had received an email from Rebecca Rosaasen, who calls herself ‘a concerned citizen.’ The two peace officers are busy, she says, and because there are two of them, are “able to respond in a timely manner.”

If the cut is being made to save money, Rosaasen says, “I’d be curious where this money has gone, and what price the town will pay for it.”

Rosaasen speculates on what the price will be: a steep decline in service. If one of those positions is cut, she says, “we will have a week’s worth of wait times coming.”

Ward, although unable (or unwilling) to talk about personnel matters, has plenty to say about overall town spending on policing costs, which have “increased substantially,” she says.

Such costs (which include paying for the RCMP, something smaller municipalities don’t have to do) “make up 25 per cent of our budget, at least.”

Simpson echoed that, and added that because of that big jump in ‘protective services’ spending, “something’s gotta give, somewhere.”

Policing study

The town is taking advantage of a new provincial government grant program to facilitate police service studies. The grant is $30,000 per municipality, Ward says, and neighbouring municipalities can get more bang for their buck by teaming up and combining their grants to pay for a comprehensive study. The town is hoping to do this with the M.D. of Lesser Slave River. At the time of the interview this hadn’t been ratified.

The idea of the study would be to assess the needs and the delivery model for policing in the area.

Some suspect this program is being promoted by the province as a first step along the road to getting rid of the RCMP in favour of the provincial policing model. Asked about that, Ward said from what she’s heard, the federal government wants to get out of the policing business anyway; if so, “the province is going to get stuck with it.”

Share this post

Post Comment