Halifax police budget with 2.7% increase debated by municipal council

·2 min read
The proposed 2021-22 budget for Halifax Regional Police is almost $100 million.
The proposed 2021-22 budget for Halifax Regional Police is almost $100 million.

( Robert Short/CBC - image credit)

A proposed budget of almost $100 million in 2021-2022 for Halifax Regional Police headed to regional council on Wednesday.

It's a 2.7 per cent increase over last year's adjusted budget in June.

A councillor called it an appropriate budget given that there are reviews underway to look into defunding the police and giving certain functions to civilian units.

"For the most part it's a stand-pat budget," said Coun. Sam Austin. "The vast majority of it is compensation and just holding the status quo in the police department is going to cost more money each year."

Just before the details were debated, members of the East Coast Prison Justice Society made presentations critical of the proposed police budget.

"HRP should cease spending a quarter of a million dollars in taxpayer money on polygraph testing and do away with its mounted unit," said Harry Critchley, co-chair of the society.

Critchley also said increased funding for the police should be tied to progress made on the recommendations in the Wortley Report, which investigated street checks and was released in 2019.

Brett Ruskin/CBC
Brett Ruskin/CBC

The East Coast Prison Justice Society also suggested council turn down a request to pay for a researcher to look into the issue of body worn cameras for police officers. Police Chief Dan Kinsella said the position is needed to consult the community and collect additional information. .

"What we're trying to do is through this position is bring back a more robust, detailed presentation to the [police] board and ultimately to council so an informed decision can be made," said Kinsella.

The research position, a training program called Journey to Change and a new disposition clerk were added to a list of items that council will vote on at the end of the budget process. They total about $230,000.

Details of the RCMP budget were also presented to regional council. It includes a $1.5 million increase to $29,419,000.

Overall RCMP costs are negotiated by the provincial Department of Justice. Councillors turned down a request for an additional staff sergeant for the RCMP to co-ordinate public complaints. The vote was 8-7.