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Calgary police to ask for bigger budget to handle city growth, policing reform

The current Calgary Police Service budget, according to documents, is $425 million. Their expenditures are pegged at $529 million, with $104 million in projected revenue.

The Calgary Police Commission (CPC) will be requesting a budget increase this year for the Calgary Police Service (CPS), citing increasing policing demands.

Next week, Calgarians will get their first glimpse at the city’s upcoming four-year budget. The city has said it wants to keep this year’s total budget increase in line with population and inflation growth. That number has been pegged at a roughly four per cent jump – or $168 million to $4.3 billion.

The Calgary Police Commission, the public oversight body for city police, said they’ve spent several months working with the CPS to finalize a four-year business plan.

It’s one they believe will meet the needs of Calgarians and members of the Service.

“To keep up with increasing demands on the Service from a growing city, we are requesting some growth, however, the proposed budget increase is still below the rate of inflation and population growth,” read a statement from CPC Chair Shawn Cornett.

It’s not clear if they’re using the same population and inflation growth increase as the city. When asked, the CPC said the population growth comes from the Calgary & Region Economic Outlook, and the inflation takes into account salaries, insurance and fuel costs.

They were unable to provide a firm budget number prior to the delivery of the 2023-2026 service plans and budget, they said.

“The proposed budget will enable the Service to continue the transformation and reform of policing that is underway, while also continuing to protect public safety and better looking after the wellbeing of those who serve.”

Police haven’t been cut: Coun. Carra

On Tuesday, Ward 9 Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra, a former police commissioner who hasn’t sat on the commission for seven months, spit-balled their budget number could reach $460 million.

He said the Calgary police haven’t taken a cut and they’ve received counter-cyclical increases along the way.  The current budget, according to CPS documents, is $425 million. Their total expenditures for 2022 were budgeted at $529 million, minus $104 million in revenue (fines, grants and penalties, etc.)

“We used to speak of it as a $400 million a year organization. It’s more than that,” Carra said.

The CPS also directed $8 million to the Community Safety Investment Framework (CSIF). Recent that money has been used to help facilitate a co-location and call diversion pilot for 911 and 211 operators. It was also used to help develop a mobile crisis response team pilot in east Calgary.

The police also took a hit on fine revenue when the province upped their take in 2019.

Ward 10 Coun. Andre Chabot believes the CSIF money should have come from the province and restored to the CPS budget.  Overall, Chabot said crime and safety is on the minds of Calgarians.

“Obviously, there’s a need for increased level of safety and security right now in the community,” Chabot said.  

“So, if there was any department that I would support a disproportionate increase to, in my opinion, would be the police.”

Chabot said community members are telling him that police presence isn’t what it used to be. They feel there’s an increase in crime and social disorder in their communities.

“I’d rather cut back on some other areas within our budget to ensure that we have appropriate funding for our police to meet the needs of Calgarians,” Chabot said.

Next week, the first part of the budget documents will be released. It will be debated the week of Nov. 21.