Kawartha Lakes Police Service asks for big budget increase

More officers will be part of a community response unit that will patrol downtown

By Kirk Winter

Three officers will be part of a community response unit that will do more foot patrol downtown.

The Kawartha Lakes Police Service is calling for an additional $541,000 in funding for 2022.

If approved, that would amount to more than a 6 per cent increase over 2021 police service capital and operating costs. According to the KLPS this money is required to fund four additional officers and pay for building maintenance costs that have been transferred from the community service budget to the police service budget beginning 2022.

“This is a big ask,” KLPS Chief Mark Mitchell told council. “We have done a complete organizational review, and applied $200,000 from the department reserve already to arrive at these numbers.”

Don Thomas, chair of the Kawartha Lakes Police Service Board concurred, telling council KLPS is “falling behind” because of budget increases in previous years that were as low as .15 per cent in 2020.

Mitchell detailed the additional expenses for 2022 beginning with building maintenance.

KLPS Chief Mark Mitchell. Photo: Erin Smith.

“This was once previously covered by the city,” Mitchell said. “It will cost $145,700 over the next budget year.”

Provincial downloading is also impacting the police service bottom line. Two full time officers must be made available to transport inmates from the Central East Correctional Centre to court dates and other appointments. This was once completely covered by the province but it is no longer.

Mitchell continued, telling council that after a well attended public meeting last month with downtown Lindsay residents who shared concerns about their health and safety, two additional officers are needed to create a community response unit. The two new hires will join an officer already added in 2021 to create this new unit.

“The community response unit will be responsible for the downtown core. They will be on foot patrol and traffic control will also be a responsibility. This unit will be doing addictions-related outreach as part of their mandate,” Mitchell said.

The final ask by Mitchell and Thomas focused on increased communications staff, a future cost that will be shared with the fire service. Mitchell would like an additional 28 hours a week of communications staffing to cover peak hours to help both services respond to public needs efficiently and effectively.

“This increase in budget will amount to an additional cost of $20 per household (in the area serviced by the KLPS),” Mitchell said.

Councillor Pat Dunn complimented the chief for his participation at the community open house dealing with downtown safety. Dunn told Mitchell it took moxie for the chief to open himself up to that kind of public scrutiny.

“I am however concerned,” Dunn said, “about the reduction in training for the service the last two years. It is discouraging to see those amounts going down.”

Thomas responded by telling Dunn that officer training has not decreased, only the cost. Because of the pandemic, most training is now being done in online modules that do not require travel, hotels or meals as the officer never leaves home.

Councillor Doug Elmslie wanted to know about the movement of building maintenance from the community services budget to the police services budget.

Mayor Andy Letham interjected saying the amount will be removed from the community services budget as a line item if these budgets are approved. This request will now go forward to be considered as part of the final 2022 budget.

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