Regina City Council passed the Regina Police Service budget Thursday night, granting them an additional $3.9 million in funding, and keeping the city’s mill rate increase at 2.34 percent.
Council voted approved the motion with a vote of 7-4, with some councillors wanting to see some of the money go towards community support, and harm reduction strategies.
Mayor Sandra Masters says the best way to help solve the city’s issues is to make sure the people keeping Regina safe are properly funded.
“I believe that the police are under resourced due to a lack of allocation of officers over the last eight years, and so we have some catchup to do,” said Masters. “We know, and we’ve experienced this as a city, that when we stop funding things, we get behind, so now we have to play catchup in order to make sure that the individuals tasked with community safety are properly resourced.”
The funding will go towards providing the RPS with 8 more officers, and 3 more civilian positions.
Police Chief Evan Bray says the approved budget allows the RPS to do their job more efficiently.
“This will help us, it bolsters our front-line, it’s a bit of a glimmer of hope for our front-line officers, the men and women that work both sworn-in and civilian positions in our organization to see an investment in the work that we do,” said Bray. “And it’s all about the collaboration going forward to find ways we can work with our community.”
Bray says the RPS hasn’t been properly staffed for over half a decade, citing there was 193 officers per 100,000 population in 2011, with only 166 officers per 100,000 population in 2020.
Bray says he understands that having more police officers won’t solve issues facing the city, like overdoses, but it will help manage them.
“I agree, I’m at the front of that group of people asking for more investments in community supports, and other ways that we can collaborate to try and make meaningful change, and keep our community safe,” said Bray. “My point is, fundamentally, that just not make sense to come from the police. It should not be an either-or discussion.”
In earlier discussions Wednesday, the city did allocate $500,000 to go towards funding harm reduction strategies in Regina.