Police association warns of gap in service if Calgary defunds police

As Calgary is poised to reallocate police funds, the organization representing police officers cautions community safety will be potentially harmed rather than helped, in the immediate future.

The Calgary Police Association issued a media statement in response to a motion at Calgary City Council to reallocate $10 million from the Calgary Police Service for the next two years, to be used for “community safety investment framework. 

Read more: Motion to reallocate $20M from Calgary police budget to be heard at council Monday

The motion was put forward by city councillor Evan Woolley on Nov. 3 and passed with a 9-5 vote. The money would go towards agencies to help people with mental health and addictions.

Police Association President John Orr said that the organization which represents more than 2,000 Calgary police officers isn’t opposed to changing call response to better serve Calgarians, but questions the process. 

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Orr said the concern is that there isn’t a plan for the change and therefore as money is taken away, fewer officers will be on the ground, still doing the same job.

Read more: COMMENTARY: Before we defund the police, maybe we should check their call lists

“The folks that need that help are still going to need it and it will still be the police taking that call until there’s an alternative structure in place,” explained Orr.

“Police officers will be forced to do it with less officers and less resources.”

The association said that it’s already short-staffed. 

“The move right now in the budget cycle will result in the elimination of 60 growth positions in the Calgary Police Service. Even with those 60 positions, we’re still understaffed. Eliminating those would be potentially very difficult to make up the difference.”

You can view the CPA statement here.

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Councillor Shane Keating said Friday that he believed that the original motion put forward could have included more details. 

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He said he also believes that before any funding is taken away, the plan for community safety networks needs to be in place. 

“We can’t just go ahead and reduce it and say, ‘OK, we’re good to go, here’s the money’ and away you run,” said Keating. “There has to be an absolutely specific, detailed plan in place to give us better services for those individuals that are in crisis.”

Read more: Calgary Coun. Woolley ‘not apologizing’ for calling Chu a ‘moron’ after defund police vote

Coun. Woolley declined a Global News request for comment on the Calgary Police Association’s statement. 

Council will meet at the end of the month to further deliberate budget changes. No change to the 2021 police budget will be made prior to that.

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