A Red Deer man hopes to catch city council’s attention by starting a petition to put more police officers on the streets.
Calvin Goulet-Jones, 26, started the online petition on Wednesday calling on the city to immediately hire 20 additional RCMP officers to work on the front line.
Goulet-Jones said Red Deer’s recent ranking in Maclean’s magazine as the second most dangerous city in Canada compelled him to take action.
“We are very understaffed,” said Goulet-Jones, a tile-setter who is considering running for councillor in the October 2013 municipal election.
“The bottom line is we need more police officers.”
Goulet-Jones said he has received some negative feedback over his petition from people who have said the issue is more complicated than simply staffing and there needs to be a community-focused approach.
“Of course it is more than police officers,” said Goulet-Jones. “The reality is we are 20 officers understaffed from what the RCMP allocated to Red Deer. We are the second most dangerous city in Canada. That’s just not acceptable.”
Goulet-Jones said the city’s operating budget deliberations get underway in a few weeks and now is the time for the city to come together.
“We can choose to have the same amount of officers now and continue forth and continue being a dangerous city,” said Goulet-Jones.
He hopes to collect 2,500 names and present it to a city clerk before the operating budget deliberations begin on Jan. 7. Goulet-Jones said he understands it is not an official petition and he simply wants council to listen to the citizens they represent.
“I am hoping they can reallocate some funds,” said Goulet-Jones. “The hard part of the decision is where are those funds going to come from but that’s council’s decision.”
Red Deer RCMP are expected to make a “significant request” for police officers during the budget talks.
The City of Red Deer recently released crime statistics for the period between 2006 and 2011, as well as staffing levels at the detachment.
The stats showed the number of Criminal Code files per member at Red Deer City RCMP was nearly 150, compared with 99 as the provincial average.
The detachment employs 131 Mounties, but only 56 of those are dedicated to front-line, first response calls. Supt. Warren Dosko told the Advocate there are 151 positions allocated to Red Deer RCMP but the city has actually chosen to not fund 20 of those positions.
The petition is available at www.petitionhosting.com and by searching “Red Deer needs more police officers.”