Eight new officers will join Red Deer’s police force this fall.
Red Deer city council opened its purse strings to release $355,350 in funding to hire the new officers and four municipal staffers.
At its Jan. 9, operating budget meeting, council said they would release the funding subject to the policing standards review.
Council adopted the governance, policing plan and crime prevention and community safety model on Monday.
Coun. Tara Veer said council has heard the debate in the community about whether the RCMP or a municipal force would better serve the community. She said the root of this debate is not having a police service levels or standards in place.
“It marks a shift from a reactive policing force to a proactive policing service both on the crime prevention and enforcement front,” said Veer. “This is certainly a road map for the future. Now that we have a plan we can work it. Council and administration will hold the police accountable to that and ultimately the public will hold council accountable.”
The plans outline the service levels and standards for the police to meet in the community.
RCMP Supt. Warren Dosko said having the benchmarks in place sets a foundation for future policing talks around allocation of resources and why the resources are needed. Dosko called this a critical step forward for policing in Red Deer.
“It’s important to connect those dots so everybody understands what those resources will be used for,” said Dosko.
The police prioritize calls from the public on three levels with Priority 1 being the most urgent. This may include a major incident like loss of life or risk of loss of life. Priority 3 calls are considered routine calls that do not require immediate police assistance.
The new standard will require police officers to respond to Priority 1 and Priority 2 calls within six minutes, 100 per cent of the time. Dosko said right now the police are already meeting this target. About 60 per cent of all police calls are considered Priority 3.
“One of our big priorities is how we manage the Priority 3 calls,” said Dosko. “One of the initiatives we are working on is becoming the Priority 3 call taking services right in the detachment so we get control at the onset of the call.”
Currently the Southern Alberta Operations Centre answers the calls first and transfer them to the Red Deer detachment.
“We are looking at becoming that call taker to do a better job of taking control of those calls initially so we can provide a better service to mitigate the impact on the front line,” said Dosko.
Four of the new hires will be front-line constables and the other four will be supervisors. The new hires are expected to begin work on Oct. 1.
Coun. Paul Harris said he was pleased that they were able to meet the deadline. He said it was very important to have these guiding documents so they knew what the police would be doing with the resources.
“This puts it in place,” said Harris. “I feel quite comfortable and confident that we have a document guide us with the release of funds.”
Policing standards highlights:
• Emergency Police Services accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week
• Priority 1 and 2 calls responded to within six minutes
• Priority 3 calls will be responded to based on a differential call model that will be determined in consultation with council
• At least one follow-up contact with any complainant, victim or witness in need