By Tim Kalinowski on December 15, 2020.
City council voted to accept the recommendation of the Finance Committee to cut $1 million in funding from the Lethbridge Police Service in 2021 and 2022 during its final budget deliberations on Monday.
Coun. Blaine Hyggen had brought forth an amendment to have council reconsider the cut, but ended up losing the vote 6-3 against. Mayor Chris Spearman, Coun. Ryan Parker and Coun. Hyggen voted in favour of the amendment.
In his final argument to council, Hyggen stressed that with what the city is facing at the moment with escalating crime, in the midst of a pandemic, and still facing a drug crisis, now was not the time to cut the police budget.
“During this time, it is extremely important we support our frontline staff, in this case being our police officers in getting the work done,” he said.
He asked that council let the Lethbridge Police Commission work through its own numbers to come up with potential efficiencies without tying their hands by putting through a $1-million budget cut.
However, other councillors felt the additional $2.3 million funding per year given to the LPS for The Watch, Community Peace Officers and PACT program represented council’s strong support for the police service in its frontline work in the community, and trusted the LPS would find ways to reduce other costs while keeping much-needed frontline officers on the streets.
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