DAN CEARNS The Standard
DURHAM: The Durham Regional Police Service (DRPS) is looking for an increase of 9.47 percent in their 2024 budget.
The request was discussed at a police services board meeting on Tuesday, September 19th.
“The increase is driven in part by staff wages and benefits for the authorized strength of 1,372 members, comprising approximately 80 percent of the total gross budget expenditure. New leased spaces, contractual, inflationary, and economic pressures comprise the remainder, including costs related to vehicle service contracts, utilities, information technology, insurance, and regional headquarters shared costs,” a staff report explained.
The Region of Durham is looking to implement a 9.75 percent increase overall in 2024, with the police services board representing 2.50 percent of that.
Earlier this month, at a meeting on Tuesday, September 12th, the Durham Region Finance and Administration Committee voted to request the DRPS to “provide a scenario of an overall budgetary property tax impact of two percent for Council’s consideration.” However, several police service board members argued that the request doesn’t make sense for the local police service.
“With housing, comes people. And with people comes problems. And it doesn’t just mean that our police service needs to expand, but also our social services, our water [servicing], our sewers, our works department and our parks department. I think these complications in expanding the region comes with an impact financially,” Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter explained.
Police board member Garry Cubitt stated that there is a price for increased police presence in municipalities.
“There’s no question that what we’re hearing around requests for increased policing and requests for inquiries and presence has a price tag to it. It’s going to be very difficult to respond to those types of requests for improvements [which] populated, at the same time as respecting this kind of level of targeted reduction.”
Through the budget request, the DRPS is looking to hire 76 new positions.
Board Chair Shaun Collier took issue with the two percent motion.
“Just to arbitrarily say two and a half to two percent, it’s throwing a dart at a dartboard. There’s no science to that I don’t think. And I find that really troubling.”
He added with response times increasing and the population of Durham increasing as well, “this is not the area to cut.”
Police Chief Peter Moreira stated his police staff have been impacted over the last couple of years by a “disproportional amount of work” due to a lack of resources.
“Resources have a direct impact on member wellness,” the police chief said.