More Money, More Police? Not Necessarily...

We're paying millions more each year for police, but it isn't resulting in as many new officers as you might think.

Does more money for the Police mean more police officers? Not Necessarily.

We're paying millions more each year for police, but it isn't resulting in as many new officers as you might think.
This coming week, Council will be discussing a proposed funding formula for the Edmonton Police budget, that would apply for the next 3 years. This formula would set the base amount of funding to be provided, and still allow the Police to come forward with additional funding requests throughout each year.

I have been having many conversations with residents, academics and police members themselves about the proposal. It is important that we all do our due diligence, especially as it pertains to such a large piece of the taxpayer-funded budget.
Let's also remember that Premier Smith has promised to fund 50 Police officers from the provincial budget, so that should help offset further pressure on the city budget.
For example the 2023 EPS Budget ($415 million is $37 million higher than it was in 2019 ($378 million), but the head count of the Edmonton Police Association has only grown by 43 members. So how is the money being spent? This seems to validate some of the concerns I've heard from the police membership and partners that there are also major morale issues and conflict brewing against Chief McFee: https://thetyee.ca/News/2023/08/10/Internal-Revolt-Edmonton-Police-Chief/

As City Council, prior to allocating additional funding, we need to dig into management spending. Of the ~2835 working full-time for the EPS, only 1982 are members of the EPA. That means there's another 863 non-EPA, not on the frontlines. Further, from the responses provided to me, Civilian management spending has grown between 4.8-7% per year since 2019, with management salaries averaging 7% higher than city management. For an example of EPS management growth, the communications budget has gone up each year, from $2.3 million in 2019 to $2.7 million in 2023. EPS spent another $600,000 last year on external legal and I've heard there are 8-10 internal legal staff. There's also concern about the costs of overtime. In 2021, one officer was paid $80,425.19 in overtime. All of this merits further review and restraint.

If you haven't read former Toronto Mayor John Sewell's latest book, "Crisis in Canada's Policing", I highly recommend it. There are five copies available through the Edmonton Public Library.

No other jurisdiction in Alberta pays as much for policing as Edmonton. The Edmonton taxpayer pays substantially more per capita than Calgary or rural Alberta.

Support the police: help unburden them. 

Chief McFee and other police Chiefs across the country have lamented that police officers are being tasked with social work and not true police work. Firefighters are similarly functioning more as health care workers. Neither of these arrangements are financially sustainable for the taxpayer and drive up your property taxes. Much of this is a result of the provincial government under-resourcing mental health and addictions, as well as housing.We've all seen the stories about social disorder on public transit, however these statistics highlight these are more the exception.

So what is the right tool for the job?We're also seeing really creative solutions in de-escalation such as the Downtown Night Patrol (https://urbanaffairs.ca/edmonton-ish/downtown-night-patrol-were-not-trying-to-step-on-anybodys-toes/). The patrol is an outreach/security team that has 2 vehicles (2 security with and 2 outreach with hire good) operating downtown at half the cost of roughly 4 police officers.This model could be a template to address low-level disorder and free up existing police officers for real police work.

What is the crime problem we are trying to solve?

When it comes to addressing violence, the best investments are preventative, as shared by Dr. Waller with us at his June 1st Ending Violent Crime talk: https://michaeljanz.ca/endviolentcrimetalkjune1st. We must move from, “accepting current rates of crime and escalating costs of police response”, to saving lives, stopping retraumitization, avoiding injuries, and protecting one another.But even if we tripled the number of police officers, it wouldn't address the nature of the crime complaints we are seeing around Edmonton mostly related to poverty, addiction, and social disorder.When I talk to front-line police officers, the answer is the same: they are frustrated because there is nowhere to take the unhoused or those suffering from mental health. One officer in frustration, compared their job to being an "adult babysitter". They are spinning their wheels playing "catch and release" until we address the underlying social issues.I would encourage you to read and share this article from the Edmonton Journal: https://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/edmonton-crime-professor-says-social-issues-must-be-addressed 
“Experts say the increased crime rate demonstrates the city’s immediate need for better investment in social services from upper levels of government. Coun. Michael Janz said right now the city is bearing the consequences of poverty and failures across the justice and health care system. He echoes Jones in saying the provincial closure of safe consumption sites and lack of recovery beds only adds to the issue. “We need to tackle the root causes of crime — support crisis diversion, take the burden off police officers. We need to make sure that we are doing what we can as a province in this system to make sure that the police are supported to free up officers for the most emergent work,” Janz said. 
Similar to public education or healthcare, the provincial government is responsible for addressing mental health, addiction and homelessness. The Provincial operating budget (approximately $57 Billion) is twenty times larger than Edmonton’s (approximately $3 Billion) and is more nimble and responsive to social crises.Edmonton isn’t asking for a special deal, just a fair deal. We need support from the province and federal government to take care of one another. You can probably guess who has the most money, but how much more?
Experts across the board say the key to stopping crime starts with addressing social services and mental health, not unsustainable investment into police and prisons. 

Ultimately, the police are reacting to crime after it has occurred. Preventing crime starts as a result of actions by the Provincial Government and I need your help to express the urgency of this.

Video: https://twitter.com/michaeljanz/status/1691223426831462404/video/1

HELP IS ON THE WAY...? 

Video: Let's compare the City, Provincial, and Federal budget...https://twitter.com/michaeljanz/status/1689373230447079424?s=20

Make your voice heard: 
In late 2022, the Provincial government created, “The Edmonton Public Safety and Community Response Task Force”, “to address the issues of addiction, homelessness and public safety, and build on the province’s recovery-oriented system of addiction and mental health care.” https://www.alberta.ca/edmonton-public-safety-and-community-response-task-force.aspx

We have yet to see meaningful action or recommendations provided as a result of forming this task force and I would encourage you to contact the members:  

Task force members (who remain post provincial election):
Mike Ellis, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Services (chair): [email protected] 
Rebecca Schulz, former Minister of Municipal Affairs, now Minister of Environment and Protected Areas: [email protected] 
Chief Billy Morin, Enoch Cree Nation, Special Advisor Indigenous Relations: [email protected] 
Chief Isaac A. Laboucan-Avirom, Woodland Cree First Nation: [email protected] 
Tim Cartmell, pihêsiwin Ward councillor, City of Edmonton: [email protected] 
Sarah Hamilton, sipiwiyiniwak Ward councillor, City of Edmonton: [email protected] 
Dale McFee, chief of police, Edmonton Police Services: [email protected] 
Kerry Bales, senior program officer, Provincial Addiction and Mental Health, Alberta Health Services: [email protected]  
Graeme McAlister, associate executive director, EMS Operations, Alberta Health Services Edmonton Zone: [email protected] 
Andre Corbould, city manager, City of Edmonton: [email protected] 
Joe Zatylny, fire chief, Edmonton Fire Rescue Services: [email protected] 

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