The Edmonton Police Service has been ordered to cut $9 million a year, for three years, from its budget.
Police chief Rod Knecht says just by finding efficiencies in their departments they have found a way to save $7.5 million.
He says they’ll make it to $9 million by making more cuts and suggests some are going to be controversial, but wouldn’t specify what they are, or even who they involve.
“We did some consultations with some high level stakeholders today and I think we’re actually leveraging opportunities with other government and private sector organizations around the city.”
Knecht says they’re also in talks with the provincial government about keeping police officers out of waiting in the emergency room, and waiting in cell blocks. Knecht says officers can spend upwards of eight hours essentially babysitting someone that police have taken to Emergency. A solution is to perhaps have a nurse or a doctor come to the scene and instruct the police on whether an individual needs to be taking to hospital, arrested on a Mental Health warrant, or taken to a different type of facility.
Another way police have been able to find ways to save money is the creation of a matrix that relates to events. Knecht says in the past there have been events that police have been at that have had too many officers for the type of event and the crowd. This new matrix allows police to decide how many officers to send based on those criteria.
“You don’t need this number of police officers there for this type of event where you have a positive crowd, the Paul McCartney concert comes to mind,” Knecht said. “Very positive crowd, people are there to enjoy themselves and see the music, you don’t need a huge police presence there. There’s certain events that require a very enhanced police presence because of the crowd, the condition of the crowd, etc, etc.”
Knecht spoke to reporters after updating the police commission, who ordered the cuts, Thursday afternoon. (kb/sj)