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Councillor Warns Against Knee-Jerk Reactions
(Monday, December 18/2000)-- Calls for additional police officers in the Halifax Regional Municipality maybe premature and should be measured in the context of "all" budgetary program needs and be based on a comprehensive analysis of crime statistics over the long term-- not simply based on a knee-jerk reaction to District crime stats over a nine-month period, Lower Sackville Councillor Bob Harvey said today.
Councillor Harvey was commenting on calls by some over the weekend for additional police officers in HRM , based on District-by-District crime statistics released for the period from January to September 2000. (Halifax Regional Police usually compile crime statistics based on divisional boundary, but responded recently to media requests to provide the information based on electoral District).
The Councillor said the need for additional police officers should be based on rational analysis, looking at police service needs in the overall context of the municipality's total Operating Budget.
He said whether or not HRM needs additional police officers should be based on long-term trends in criminal activities, and be compared in the overall context of all staffing issues for other municipal services, such as fire, planning and development, parks and recreation, libraries, etc.
"We must have the total global budget for 2001/2002 before we can make any informed decisions. Perhaps, we should be looking at crime statistics over a 10 year period? I don't believe that we have an astonishing crime wave in our municipality that is beyond our ability to handle," he said.
Councillor Harvey said the costs of addressing some of the primary issues that often lead to criminal activity- poverty, lack of education, racism, etc--- must also be weighed against simply running out and hiring additional police officers.
"Uniforms and guns are at the far end of the pro-active list, as far as I am concerned, "he said.
The Lower Sackville Councillor also said the Halifax Regional Council should be looking at the present inequity that exists in the police officer-to-citizen ratio in the urban areas, compared to the suburban and rural areas of HRM.
He said the ratio in Sackville (which is at the end of the urban core) is one police officer to every 1,029 citizens. That same ratio for urban areas, such as Halifax, Dartmouth and Bedford, is one police officer to every 499 citizens.
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Councillor Bob Harvey