Thursday, August 22, 2013

Thinking outside of the box - A creative solution to offset rising policing costs

At the Economics of Policing Summit held earlier this year, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews told delegates that Canada’s spending on policing has doubled in the last decade, with municipalities paying for 60 per cent of that increase.

Policing is an essential service, but an expensive line in any community’s budget — and it’s been getting worse. The cost of equipment, vehicles, training, salaries and liability can be staggering.
“Salaries and benefits make up 80 to 90 percent of costs,” stated Minister Toews.

“Looking for efficiencies in the way police work is done, and by whom, will be important as we move forward.” As municipal budgets are stretched, community leaders are looking to ensure that public
dollars are spent efficiently.

Let’s look at any significant disaster, be it weather-related (Hurricane Juan), criminal (Boston bombings), or non-natural (Swiss Air). The draw on emergency services is substantial; police officers
are called in to perform investigations, scene control and victim identification, to name a few of their tasks. The initial focus of the police is to gain control of the scene and in order to do so a certain level
of authority and training is required. However, once the situation has been stabilized, the need for tasks such as perimeter security could be handled by an agency other than the police service. This frees the officers up to concentrate on law enforcement-related priorities. Dr. Alok Mukherjee, President of the
Canadian Association of Police Boards, recently suggested that: “We need to get away from the notion that every service provided by police must be performed by a uniformed officer.” He suggested that
this may include using more civilians or assigning non-core tasks to private security firms.

This solution has already been activated in several communities here in Nova Scotia. In recent years, Commissionaires Nova Scotia (CNS) has been providing support for non-core police services in areas such as parking authority, crime scene security, delivery of summons and subpoenas, prisoner transport,
fingerprinting and much more. “These are not core police responsibilities, but they still must be provided and managed well if police officers are to perform at optimal levels,” says Bruce Belliveau,
CEO for CNS.

Citizens expect their hard-earned tax dollars funding police services to be invested thoughtfully, responsibly, efficiently, and with the promise that our police officers will actually be doing the jobs for which they’ve been trained: protecting the public by preventing, investigating, and solving crimes. Taking advantage of a cost-effective third-party, like CNS, can relieve financial constraints and put more officers where they are best utilized to serve and protect their communities.

This article was origanaly published in "Business Voice"

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