Councillor Survey Question 8

Should we defund the police? If yes, what exactly does defunding the police mean to you? If not, what should the City do to address both historical and ongoing injustices?

Rajko Dodic:

No. Defunding the Police means essentially reducing existing policing budgets and reallocating them to non-policing forms of public safety such as social services, youth services and the like. I appreciate that, if the root cause of criminal behavior could be addressed, before that behavior manifests itself, the need for policing would be diminished. If we were to defund the police now, it effectively would become an experiment to see whether, in fact, previously allocated police budget money proved for alternative programs would actually address the issue of escalating crime. It's not something I could support without a lot of credible evidence that defunding and reallocating was more effective then the imperfect system we have now. In terms of addressing historical and ongoing injustices, we as individuals have to address that for ourselves. In terms of policing, on a go forward basis, the training Police undergo has to include a recognition of the historical injustices and those cadets that don't understand or don't acknowledge the existence should not be allowed to move forward in their program.


Nick Paladino:

Absolutely not! Reducing police funding at this time is like asking doctors and nurses to take a pay cut during a pandemic! I just completed a survey for the Police Association and have learned that Lethbridge’s Police Officer-to-population ratio is 172 for 100,000 people. The national average is 202. We need to bring our numbers more in line with the national average.


Bill Ginther:

Defunding is a word that should never be used in the same sentence as policing as they do not go hand in hand. Creating efficiencies and careful fund and resource allocation are the two key tenants of a police budget…


Mark Campbell:

No we shouldn’t be defunding the police but appropriating money in the right place. The city has a police commission to address any injustices and there is a process the police is required to use to follow through with all kinds of issues. I have faith in the Police Chief Mehdisadeh that he will continue to address all issues as they arise.


Ryan Wolfe:

Don't defund the police. I have met with the Chief, the union and many officers. Morale is low. I am convinced there is no desire to protect officers who do not follow the rules. These are professionals who work very hard to earn our trust. They are asked to do an exceedingly difficult job. So, we need to hold those responsible when they show poor judgement. WE need to restore funding to the police and work with them.


Kelti Baird:

Not right away. We need to have adequate social support in place to relieve the police of social wellbeing or mental health burdens that they were never intended to address. City Council cannot directly control how our police services operate, but we do have some control over the amount of money that is used for community policing. I would like to see stronger reporting and more transparency from our police services about their distribution of funding and the efficacy of their programs. Prove to me the program works and I will vote to fund it. However, blindly throwing money at the police with no way to measure the success of a program doesn't work either. In terms of addressing historical and ongoing injustices, our police need to be held to the highest standard of service to our community (same for public elected officials, and senior city administrators in my opinion). Recognizing that our police service needs a cultural shift, I would be interested in finding a way to assess if all members of our police services are worthy of their position, or if they may be better on some other career path.


Tim VanderBeek:

No, unfortunately we will always need the police. There needs to be an acknowledgement of past transgressions and there needs to be training and policies to deal with it.


Ryan Lepko:

No. I do not know what maintaining funding to the police service has to do with any historical and ongoing injustices that may still exist?


Davey Wiggers:

No. Defunding police services is the most nonsensical notion ever considered. The LPS budget needs to be restored. The Police Commission should be more proactive in calling the Chief and the service to account. Our Solicitor General should not need to be threatening to dissolve the force. More education & training for our constables, combined with available & deployable mental health resources, should address both real & perceived injustices.


Dale Leier:

Our ability to keep families and professionals living here, as well as to attract people, businesses, and investment, depends on the perception that Lethbridge is a safe community. This means ensuring our police are adequately fund so that the appropriate levels of qualified staffing, training, equipment, and other resources are readily available. Often this is not directly connected to the overall amount of funding provided. Therefore, it is incumbent on the City to look at not only how much funding is given, but also how it is being spent. Defunding can mean different things to different people. To me, it means re-focusing our spending. I propose a 3-step process to deal with all the issues we have been facing including injustices. 1. We not only restore the $1.0 million that was cut from the budget, we also add an $500k per year for each of the next 4 years. This will be more than sufficient to ensure we don’t have any future resourcing issues. 2. We have a complete review of all police programs with a view to ensuring we are going about these services in the most effective and efficient means possible and consistent with our desired outcomes. 3. Using some of the additional funds to ensure our recruitment, training, and corporate culture are keeping in line with ever evolving demands being placed on law enforcement.


Belinda Crowson:

As I noted above when I discussed Priority Based Budgeting, we need to ensure priority areas of our community are funded. As a result of reduced funding over the past years and even decades into areas such as mental health and social programs, the police have been required to do community work outside of their mandate and expertise. In order to support our community and police force, it is necessary to re-invest in social programs in our community. This needs to be done by all orders of government. As the KPMG report made abundantly clear, Lethbridge is significantly underfunding its role in this matter, providing its CSD department five times less per capita than other reviewed communities. This underfunding has contributed to many of the problems our community are facing and has caused incredible strains on the police department. It has also contributed to creating many problems for people in our community with regards to employment, housing, that are affecting the entire community. Specifically related to the police, please see my answer to the question below. Better governance and oversight will support both the police and the community. Better governance and oversight must include bringing more voices to the table so that historical and ongoing injustices can be addressed and appropriate measures put into place to ensure they do not happen moving ahead.


Harold Pereverseff

We should not defund the police. The police are vital to the well being of our community. Yes, there have been "historical and perhaps ongoing injustices" with our Lethbridge Police Services. The City should ensure that the Police Department is operated in an efficient manner with checks and balances in place. Adequate and focused training of members is important and needs to be ongoing. Appropriate review procedures need to be in place and updated accordingly the City must ensure that adequate funding is in place to provide for these areas of need. The City should have 2 Council members appointed to the Police Commission, The LPS should attend all City Council and Community Issues meeting to ensure that first hand and current information and questions can be asked or shared with Council.


Shelby MacLeod:

We should not de-fund the police. The slogan was a nice cliche that people gravitated to during the Trump governance era in USA. I would suspect many do not mean defunding the police, rather they really want a reallocation or a new program investment of a specific budget line items moved to another program line on the policing budget. It's not totally the City's role to solve the historical injustices of our forefathers and people's actions with their vision to education. I believe the City is moving forward with work and an inclusive vision on reconciliations awareness, by adopted the official greeting OKI. Reconciliation Lethbridge must continue sharing their stories, the truth and their excellent information that fosters a better understanding, and a climate of acceptance and tolerance. The new Reconciliation Ally Toolkit, is an excellent document with has easy to follow links and steps to relationship building and learn about 20,000 people who live near and with us. Thankfully, the work has started, is being done and must continue.


Jenn Schmidt-Rempel:

The Police Commission needs to ensure that it is doing everything in its power to provide safe, efficient police-related services in our city and Council needs to fund it appropriately. I support providing the Lethbridge Police Commission and our police services with the resources necessary to deliver the services we are asking them to provide. I am also committed to holding the Police Commission accountable for their oversight of Lethbridge Police Service and its budget. Supporting respectful, professional, and ethical policing in our community is core to my platform. The Police Commission also needs to lead the work with communities that face historical and ongoing injustices starting with listening to these communities and understanding how policing policies can target individuals because of their race, gender, sex, ethnicity, and social condition. They can then review and amend those policies to ensure that policing is about safety and not power.


Darcy Logan:

It is difficult to talk about de-funding the police when their budget was cut. I don't think the reduction of the Police Budget was de-funding as the term is commonly understood (intentionally re-allocating money spent on a constabulary toward things like social work and mental health), but a more pragmatic act of desperation after UCP municipal funding cuts. I support integrating police with other social services to provide a more holistic service delivery model, but the budget reduction wasn't about this. It just decreased service delivery without providing anything else. If the police budget was at its regular level of funding, I would be open to conversations around hybrid delivery models. I support Reconciliation initiatives. This includes place-making and working towards a Blackfoot Cultural Centre as a permanent site to share the stories of Alberta's first people.


Robin Walker:

It is my understanding that the police service has already seen their budget reduced by $1m and that another reduction is planned. I do believe that adequate funding for our police service is important, however it would be good to review exactly what role police services play in our community and whether or not citizens would be better served by coordinated approaches to some issues, like having mental health professionals and/or social workers being the primary respondents (with police support where appropriate) to requests for wellness checks, domestic disputes, and other issues where police aren't necessarily the best equipped to always provide for the best outcomes.

Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
Secured Via NationBuilder