$3.6M increase for police up for debate at Regina budget discussions

·2 min read
The proposed Regina Police Services budget comes in at more than $89.2 million. (Kirk Fraser/CBC - image credit)
The proposed Regina Police Services budget comes in at more than $89.2 million. (Kirk Fraser/CBC - image credit)

The Regina police budget will take centre stage at city hall on Wednesday as council begins deliberations on the 2021 municipal budget.

The Regina Police Service (RPS) has asked for more than $89.2 million in 2021, a $3.6-million increase to its operating budget from the year before.

The request comes amid widespread discussion around how cities should fund police forces and whether it would be better to defund police as a whole.

In 2020, advocates called for Regina police to be defunded. They called for the money to be redirected to other community-based organizations and supports.

At least 10 activists, community organizations and academics have tabled responses to RPS's budget request.

Michelle Stewart, a researcher at the University of Regina examining racialized policing practices, filed one of the responses for council's consideration.

On Tuesday, Stewart told CBC's Blue Sky that police have gotten used to asking for budget increases every year.

"I don't think it's really out of character. I think that what we do see is a year in which a lot of cities across North America have taken a step back and said, what do we want to be funding and how?" she said.

It's a sentiment that has been echoed by at least one sitting councillor.

In a Facebook post earlier this week, Coun. Dan LeBlanc of Ward 6 questioned whether the police budget needs another increase when it has already climbed by approximately 40 per cent since 2010.

"Regina can increase public safety by properly funding social supports," LeBlanc wrote.

"It's time that our city budget reflects this fact."

Under the proposed budget increase, RPS would hire eight new police officers and three new civilian positions.

The civilians would include two dispatchers and one person in human resources.

"With a clear vision, defendable list of priorities and pressures focused on performance measures, the RPS expects additional resources will enhance public safety, police visibility, service delivery and employee wellness," reads the RPS report headed to council.

Council will convene at 1 p.m. CST.