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New West's police board looks for $2.5M increase in 2024 budget

The group will present the ask to council on Thursday, Sept. 14 at 10am

A police cruiser parked in Downtown New West. Ria Renouf.

We’re getting a sense of what New West’s police board is looking for when it comes to funding, as the group has released its provisional budget ahead of Thursday’s meeting with council at City Hall.

The New West Police Department (NWPD) is asking for a total increase of about $2.5M, a 9% increase over its 2023 budget.

According to the report, there are an array of costs driving the figure, including costs related to E-Comm, and the need to hire a dedicated human resources person.

On the E-Comm front—which the board calls one of the more “worrying” trends set to be downloaded onto the police department—there was hope there would be an upcoming decrease in E-Comm’s rates. As of the report being published, the department says that doesn’t look likely.

“An updated forecast…in Aug. 2023 projected a worrying 26% increase for 2024,” the report explains. “If the E-Comm board approves the proposed 2024 increase, the department's E-Comm dispatch levy will have effectively doubled in just three years from $1.055 million to $2.160 million and would represents [sic] over 7% of the department budget.”

Meanwhile, the report notes that human resources work at the department hasn’t typically been done by a dedicated professional.

“The NWPD has traditionally and currently uses senior Police Officers [non-HR professionals] to administer core HR Management functions, and upon request, receives support from a HR Business Partner from within the City of New Westminster’s HR Department.”

Based on department numbers, and according to the report, there should be at least two full-time human resources employees. At this stage, it’s currently asking for one full-time HR manager.

The department has mentioned in the past that based on per capita data its funding has been “at or near the bottom” when compared to other municipal departments over the last 20 years.

“This trend has resulted in a slow but steady decline in the rate of police officers per population, which is exacerbated by the increasing complexities and administrative requirements of policing, including the continued debate of what matters we should be requiring police officers to attend,” the opening of the report explains.

Top-of-mind spending was informed by three principles, including:

  1. Strengthening community engagement

  2. Modernizing community safety

  3. Investing in people

It is worth noting that, as has been the case across much of North America, the discussion of policing and expenditures has been a recent topic of interest. During The Anchor’s previous discussion with New West’s Chief Constable Dave Jansen, he noted he was well aware of the changes that have occurred in recent years when it comes to funding and partnerships, as well as how police are meant to function in a community.

Chief Constable Dave Jansen stands in front of NWPD police vehicles. Ria Renouf.

“I’ve made it quite clear, and I’ve said several times that I 100% agree that the police have been put into situations and dynamics that we’re not the best people to deal with,” Jansen told The Anchor, in reference to calls connected to mental health events or the unhoused.

“Some of the dialogue that’s occurred in regards to the homeless population, I don’t want to be involved in that. I don’t want my members to have to be, but sometimes we do get involved, and sometimes we do need to get involved. It’s rare, but a lot of times business owners or residents have no choice but to call us.”

The police board is chaired by Mayor Patrick Johnstone. Its members are Heather Boersma, Drew Hart, Dr. Patrick Lalonde, former city councillor Mary Trentadue, and local restaurant owner Alejandro Diaz.

You can take a look at the full report, which is live on the NWPD’s website. Thursday’s 10am meeting is open to the public and can be accessed in person or through Zoom.

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