Police board amends HRP’s proposed operating budget

Amendments would cut two officers from proposal to hire 24

3 min read
four officers sitting at a desk
caption Halifax Police Chief Don MacLean speaks at Wednesday's police board meeting. With him, from left, is Bill Moore, HRM director of public safety, Deputy Chief Reid McCoombs, and Chief Superintendent Jeffrey Christie of the RCMP.
Dheif Daniel Yunting

Halifax’s board of police commissioners trimmed the department’s hiring proposal by two jobs at their meeting Wednesday.

The Halifax Regional Police (HRP) proposed an operating budget of $98,132,100 for 2024/25. The department proposed hiring 22 officers and two civilians at a cost of about $1.4 million.

In last week’s meeting, the budget proposal met with loud opposition from the public. No one from the public attended this week’s meeting.

Commissioner Gavin Giles disagreed with some of the proposed hirings, such as the background, security clearance unit and the employee and family assistance program.

“I cannot understand why rising crime rates need more boots on the ground,” said Giles, in response to the proposed hiring of 12 more patrol constables among the 24 hires. “But even with more boots on the ground, crime rates continue to rise.”

“We need a different way, and we need a better way,” he added.

Commissioner Yemi Akindoju said he totally supports additional hiring for the police to replace those close to retirement.

“I will give support for the 1.3 million or 1.4 million highlighted for the increase…for the hire of new men and women,” he said.

The board eventually agreed on two amendments to the hiring proposals: the community response office would only hire four, instead of six. The patrol division would hire 10 constables, while two will be seconded to community safety.

HRP’s proposed 2024/25 operating budget is a 6.3 per cent increase compared to its 2023/24 budget of $92,345,000.

The budget proposal now goes to regional council for final approval.

‘A step in the right direction’

During the meeting, Chief Don MacLean said the proposed hiring of the 12 constables was not to respond more to mental health calls.

“It’s not about going to mental health calls,” he said. “What it was about was having a pilot, with the hospital, where we could have less officers in that space covering more at one particular time.”

MacLean said he respected the decision of the board, despite not getting everything as proposed in the budget.

“It’s rare when you get everything you want in life,” he said. “I’ve said from the beginning what my priorities were. It was about front-line response.”

Even with 10 officers, MacLean said he believes it is “a step in the right direction” when it comes to mitigating the number of officers needing to stay at hospitals.

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About the author

Dheif Daniel Yunting

A Filipino reporter now based in Halifax, N.S. Awarded as one of the outstanding interns at the newspaper outlet 'The Freeman' in 2021. Graduated...

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