Wednesday’s council meeting decided community safety may be at risk if city makes a significant cut to police budget.
On May 11, Halifax Regional Police chief Dan Kinsella presented a plan to cut the service’s 2020/21 budget by $5.5 million in an effort to accommodate the city’s need to have a COVID-19 response funding.
Over $4 million of the police budget cut would be compensation savings that goes to the city.
Kinsella said this would mean not filling 18 currently vacant positions, and 10 upcoming retirements.
Also, overtime and court duties would be slashed by 25 per cent.
At the time, council chose to defer their decision and give Kinsella a chance to consult with the police association and union before the board of commissioners makes its final recommendation.
However, on Wednesday, Kinsella said emergency situations will still be prioritized and there will be no impact on the police’s ability to respond to emergency calls. But, there will be an impact on the overall police operations. “There’s no doubt,” he said.
Coun. Tony Mancini raised concerns about other essential police services taking a hit, such as community response, the traffic division and school safety officers.
“I’ve never, in my short time at council, received the volume of traffic concerns.”
He fears the current budget cut will mean less police response to non-emergency issues.
Kinsella said HRP manages vacancies all the time, but there will be work not done.
On Tuesday, Halifax Regional Police Association (HRPA) also raised their concerns with the previously proposed $5.5 million cut.
“These vacancies will result in the reduction of School Resource Officers and Community Response Officers to name a few, a real step back to the Community Based Policing provided by virtually all modern police services,” the HRPA said a press release.
Mancini proposed Wednesday that chief Kinsella looks into the impacts of a $4.5 million and a $3.5 million cut on the city before moving to the board’s recommendation.
While any cut will have an impact, Kinsella said: “with a lesser reduction, I can certainly bring in a lesser impact.”
Mancini’s motion to add the two police budget options passed unanimously.
Coun. Richard Zurawski said he doesn’t want cuts to police and fire services decided in the same way as other departments.
The supplemental report is expected to be back in council by May 26.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.