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City may get more RCMP officers over the next four years

City council is considering adding more RCMP officers. It started looking at next year’s budget on Wednesday, and one of the first things to come up was the need for new members and replacement equipment for the city’s emergency services.

Protective Services Deputy Director Chris Manuel wants the city to hire two new RCMP officers next year and seven in the following three years. As well, he’d like to see another Community Peace Officer, a Public Information Officer and an Emergency Social Services person for the Grande Prairie Regional Emergency Partnership.

Back in 2015 when the last budget was made, Council did add more police resources. Manuel says that addition has led to results.

“Since that time, in 2017 we concluded with a 24 per cent reduction in our crime severity index. Even more impressive, our weighted clearance rate where a matter is reported to the police, investigated, ultimately concluded, increased 59 per cent. Essentially those dollars did correlate to some significant results.”

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Manuel is also looking for the funds to replace a patrol car and some of the fire department’s older equipment. He says the money will also go towards a number of things the departments will be working on over the next four years.

“Improving our response to local mental health and addictions; making sure our officer deployments are set to maximize service to the community; foster more community participation in crime prevention and education and enhanced communication and transparency.”

Other things covered on day one of budget deliberations included decreasing the amount of staff overtime, as well as training and development costs. Talks will continue on Thursday morning at 9 a.m. at City Hall.

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