(Advocate file photo).

Red Deer city council supports proposed changes to police funding model

But more factors should be considered to achieve ‘equitable funding strategy’

Getting all Alberta municipalities to pay something towards their policing costs is a good first step, Red Deer city council determined.

But Mayor Tara Veer said the government needs to go further by considering such things as the crime severity index of each community in its funding strategy, as well as its “shadow population.” This means the number of people from the surrounding area who work in a city or town, adding to its daytime population.

The Province of Alberta’s proposed changes to the police funding model would require all Alberta municipalities, regardless of size, to begin paying for some front line police services.

But while the decision to make smaller communities also contribute towards their own policing costs gets rid of the urban-rural divide, Red Deer city councillors believe it doesn’t replace the need for a more “equitable funding strategy” that also considers other factors.

As a regional hub, Red Deer has been plagued by more crime and social disorder problems than some other communities of its size, noted Veer. “We need elevated supports to navigate what we are dealing with.”

On Monday, councillors discussed the Province of Alberta’s Police Costing Model Engagement report and opinions were generally favourable.

Historically, municipalities with more than 5,000 residents have paid 90 per cent of their own policing costs, while smaller communities had their policing completely funded by the province. This made no sense, said Veer, since “we know that crime knows no borders.”

With more equitable funding contributions, every municipality will share the responsibility of policing and community safety, she added.

Red Deer City Council resolved to ask the province to phase in the new police funding model over time to reduce impact on the smaller communities.

And Council also plans to ask the province to come up with a funding formula that takes crime rates and other public safety factors into consideration.

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