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Today’s letters: Policing and the public purse

Wednesday, Dec. 1: The head of Ottawa’s police services board weighs in on the budget discussion. You can write to us on this and other topics, at [email protected]

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Front-line police presence remains robust

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Re: Proposed Ottawa police budget sets stage for vote by divided council, Nov. 26.

I read this article with concern. It is critically important that your readers understand what is being proposed in the Ottawa Police Services 2022 budget.

On Nov. 23, the Ottawa Police Services Board unanimously approved a two-per-cent increase to the police service’s budget. The budget approved by the board is supported by the police chief and I believe that it strikes a balance between finding efficiencies and ensuring the safety of our city. The proposed budget is an increase of $11.35 million over 2021 funding and allows for the hiring of 22 front-line officers.

The budget challenges the service to continue to be as efficient as possible and tasks the chief to find an additional $2 million in efficiencies. The board was clear that this exercise should not include laying off front-line officers. Instead, we encouraged the chief to consider alternate sources of cost savings such as travel, conferences, events, etc.

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The board has heard that investing in an alternative response to mental-health calls is a community priority. This budget allows the board to support this priority by allocating the $2 million in efficiencies from the police budget to supporting a safer, culturally appropriate alternative for mental health crisis response under the city-led Community Safety and Wellbeing Plan .

The police services board has a responsibility to ensure the provision of adequate and effective policing in our city. As a civilian oversight board, our job is to set a budget that enables police to continue their important work, while also being mindful of the public purse.

Diane Deans, councillor for Gloucester-Southgate ward, chair of the Ottawa Police Services Board

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Where would we be without the police?

There seems to be a movement out there that advocates the defunding of police services. Can you imagine where we would be without police? Who do you call when somebody takes your car at gunpoint? A social services department employee, perhaps? How about trying to control the out-of-control drivers in this city? Maybe a school crossing guard or a psychologist to help these drivers deal with anger management.

We need our police, and whatever they need to get the job done, so be it. I, for one, feel safer because the police are out there, a phone call away in any sort of emergency.

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Mark Van Riemsdyk, Richmond

Respect and salute the police

Ever wonder why there is a high rate of suicide in the law enforcement community? It’s because they see the ugly stuff the public doesn’t want to see: terrible accidents, suicide scenes and on and on.

Should we put more resources into mental health issues?  Absolutely. There are certainly cases where people get into trouble because they are not getting the help they need.

But the population of Ottawa is increasing every year and with this comes more criminal activity, more traffic problems, more fatalities — in other words, more problems that require a police presence.  I respect the often dangerous work the police do and salute them.

Joanne Sonley, Ottawa

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