The budget for the Chatham-Kent Police Service took centre stage during the first night of budget deliberations.
The Chatham-Kent Police budget was approved for a 1.16 percent increase, the lowest since amalgamation.
Chief Gary Conn gave the virtual presentation, providing a brief rundown of the service and its current realities with respect to the evolution of policing.
Conn requested a $32.3 million budget for 2021, which represents a 1.16 percent increase from 2020 and has a 0.23 percent overall tax increase. Last year’s police budget boasted a 1.75 percent hike, the same as the previous year.
Eighty-nine percent of the Chatham-Kent Police Service’s operating expense goes towards salary and benefits, five percent is fleet-related, four percent goes towards administration, and two percent remains for operational expenses.
“We have been rather consistent trying to keep the increases in line with the consumer price index and inflation,” said Conn. “This is the lowest increase for our police budget in the history, 23 years, of our existence.”
Conn said given the additional challenges associated with Covid-19, the budget is very close to council’s direction of one percent and fiscally responsible.
According to Conn’s presentation, there were 76,851 police occurrences in 2020, which means officers responded to an average of 211 calls per day and saw more than 4,559 more occurrences than the year before. There are 164 sworn Chatham-Kent police officers, plus 62 civilian staff. There were 76,851 occurrences last year, which was an increase of 4,559 from 2019.
“We are dealing with far more people who are suffering from mental health, addictions, emotional violence, alcoholism, poverty and homelessness than ever before,” said Conn.
Deliberations resume on Thursday at 6 p.m. and are available on YourTV, as well as live-streamed on the YourTV YouTube channel.
Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News