January 19th, 2021

LPS looking to maintain core policing in face of budget cut


By Lethbridge Herald on December 15, 2020.

Lethbridge Police Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh speaks to reporters Tuesday after city council voted to cut $1 million in police funding for the 2021 and 2022 budget. Herald photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald

Dale Woodard
Lethbridge Herald
They’ll be tightening their belts a bit, but the Lethbridge Police Service will still provide the community with the policing it deserves.
On Monday, Lethbridge City Council voted to accept the recommendation of the Finance Committee to cut $1 million in funding from the LPS in 2021 and 2022 during its final budget deliberations.
Speaking at a press conference Tuesday morning at LPS headquarters, Police Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh said the LPS will have to do some to-be-determined trimming in certain departments, but would not be cutting the quality of police service to Lethbridge residents.
“When I gave my presentation to council I wasn’t asking for more,” he said. “We can certainly manage what we do with 172 police officers, but now that number has basically been reduced to 165 based on the million-dollar budget cut.
“Now we have to look at what we can do to realize those reductions of service and personnel, which means a reduction in service and what we can do for the community. But we will not sacrifice our core policing function. The community is going to get the police service they deserve from the core policing. But other programs are subject to review and to see where we can make those cuts and come up with the million-dollar savings we have to come up with.”
However, $2.3 million in funding per year was given to the LPS for The Watch, Community Peace Officers and PACT program to assist the LPS in their frontline work in the community.
“The Watch and CPO were actually additions to our budget. Those programs are going to stay because we need them because they are the medium we need so we don’t put more pressure on our police officers,” said Mehdizadeh. “When you cut a million dollars it translates into about seven police officers that we are looking at and it’s about looking at where we can run those vacancies and still provide the service we need to for the community. But I’m not prepared to have our officers do more with less.
“The budget cut will translate into doing less and what less translates into, I don’t know. We’re having discussions on that and hopefully once we make those decisions and have the commission’s support on that we can communicate that in the near future.”
Mehdizadeh didn’t want to re-allocate funds given to The Watch, Community Peace Officers and PACT programs.
“This was the funding given to us based on good faith because we need those programs as well,” he said. “But if we have to run vacancies there might be an opportunity to run some vacancies in all the areas. But certainly, those are not the programs I’m planning on stealing from to make this meet what we need to do. What we need to realize is those programs are taking calls to our frontline officers. They’re very important programs. They’re community-based and we just want to make sure we show respect for them. But by taking them off and removing them will just add more stress on our frontline police officers.”
Mehdizadeh stressed those programs came about when the police force asked for more police officers and it was council’s direction for the police force to come up with different programs at lower cost to provide the service and give the community what they deserve.
“By removing those programs, the only way to manage that is to hire more police officers at much higher cost. Those programs are providing a service to the community at lower cost, but it doesn’t mean we are able to lose the 172 police officers.
“Certainly, all the programs besides the patrol teams and investigative teams are on the table for discussion. At this point we haven’t made a final decision. But certainly, some of the programs, we will look at those and see where we can risk the programs.”
Mehdizadeh emphasized every position in the LPS is an important one.
“People are fully tasked and from a policing perspective we are stretched to the max even with 172 police officers. They have given this information to council and when you look at the standard for other police departments of similar size of cities, we are actually short police officers and civilian staff.”
Despite the reductions he’s facing, Mehdizadeh said he respects council’s decisions to save money.
“This is not something new to Lethbridge,” he said. “Every municipality out there is looking at similar options. However, when you look at the economic downturns, that translates to an increase in crime and the last place you would want to cut the budget is public safety and policing. That’s the way I look at it, but I respect the decision and we’ll do our best to serve the community to the best of our ability with what we’re given.”
With the LPS slated to provide a submission to council on how they’re going to manage the budget cut in February, decisions will be made quickly, said Mehdizadeh.
“Also, we’re looking at potential hirings in January, so we also have to revisit some of those decisions. We’re still going to go with our hiring because we can’t just not hire. That’s the biggest mistake we can make because that will certainly put a lot of pressure on this organization if the more-than-expected people leave. We’re already in a vacancy situation. So, we’re going to be hiring some people, but those numbers may change based on the decision made.”
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pursuit diver

After this City Council destroyed our city and it’s reputation internationally, and destroyed the downtown business community with a Safe Consumption Site that no one wanted and many warned the leadership of the impacts it would bring on this community and has allowed the First Nations to take over our streets, sleeping anywhere they want, leaving bio hazards in business doorways, taking over washrooms at public places such as the downtown bus terminal and library for hours to use as their private partying place and bathing areas, and allow crime to skyrocket in this city, they neuter the abilities of the our police force to perform their duties!
With so many bad decisions the leadership has made over the past 5 years I have to wonder, who are the Mayor and Council serving? Organized Crime?
They have zero ability to make the necessary decisions needed to recover this city from the damage done from the Safe Consumption Site!
We needed more support for police and this kind of insanity really puts in question who they are serving at City Hall? It is not the citizens of this city!
What is going to be left of our city when the election finally comes?
We have some of the highest crime stats in Canada and they slash the police budget! Organized crime is loving it!

Fescue

My, my. You may have just taken the Hysterical Hyperbole title from Dennis. Well done.

Seth Anthony

Really?

Pretty much every point that Pursuit Diver stated is valid and true.
Furthermore, said points are easily proven by various and copious forms of evidence. If you have cohesive counter arguments to each point, then please post them. I’d be delighted to engage you. That of course is mainly a rhetorical request Fescue. Reason being, I suspect that as usual, you’ll post your veiled insult in disagreement (like you just did), but when challenged to produce counter logical arguments, you go silent.

BTW- I just received “Already Extinct” 🙂

Fescue

I hope you enjoy the book, Seth Anthony. It is a bit uncompromising with respect to our plight, but I thought it was well researched overall. BTW, the first chapter is a bit of a romp – don’t let it deter you. In fact, you might be able to tell me what it means sometime.

As for pursuit diver … hyperbole here is an understatement 🙂
“After this City Council destroyed our city and it’s reputation internationally, and destroyed the downtown business community with a Safe Consumption Site that no one wanted … allowed the First Nations to take over our streets, sleeping … allow crime to skyrocket in this city, they neuter the abilities of the our police force to perform their duties! … who are the Mayor and Council serving? Organized Crime? They have zero abilityWhat is going to be left of our city when the election finally comes? … Organized crime is loving it!”

Though I admit, it could have used a few more exclamation marks. And I forgot to mention the notable efforts of Barry for this title, but even he must admit pursuit driver was good.
To put this in perspective, this is less than a 5% cut to the largest budget line for the City. The GDP of the province has fallen as much or more, how many home owners have been un- or under-employed during the pandemic? Kudos to the City for maintaining the budget while trying to balance the myriad services it provides. And to be clear, I am not one of the people who thinks we should have more police to deal with social problems. We need more social services to help the homeless and the near-homeless. I am not against policing, but they should not be considered a panacea for every perceived ill in society.

Seth Anthony

I wasn’t referring to the subjective notions of hyperbole, but rather the actual assertions made.

Anyway, the book is one of those that I’ll read in one evening. I’ll talk to you about it later.

Seth Anthony

I just quickly read the first chapter. I believe said trauma is inherent and is not “curable”. Reason being, the trauma is due to a once sentient and free energy form, to which is now enslaved in a rotting physical body.

Fescue

Wow!

Seth Anthony

The first chapter is filled with terms that Bhuddists would use to describe existence. However, I’m uncertain if that was intentional or not.

Seth Anthony

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Fescue

Oh, sorry, I didn’t see any of those alleged ‘assertions’. (Between you and me, it looked more like a high-drama tantrum.)

pursuit diver

The question is:
Is Fescue Myashiro? Obviously Fescue is one of the Councilors that will be happily replaced next election.
Then we will be able to take back this city, but it due to all of the mismanagement, we will be paying for several years! Actually, longer, since they decided to pump all the money into the arts, over $37 million, and over $10 million to destroy a major thoroughfare along Galt Gardens so the homeless can have more benches and flowers to sleep, pee on and hide their drugs in.
Anyone who actually KNOWS what is happening in our city byseeing with their own eyes, knows I am right, but one has to look first.

Seth Anthony

Given everything I’ve read from Fescue over the last year in regards to city council and other municipal matters, I fully suspect Fescue is either a council member, or is directly associated with one.

Yes, Fescue. Your bias is that obvious 🙂

Seth Anthony

Granted, the wording was colorful and a little over the top. Regardless, the numerous assertions Pursuit made are valid.

Fescue

Oh, you guys. You know ol’ Fescue has been enjoying these comments since snowman was curled up on willard’s lap.

You’ll just have to accept that someone thinks differently than you.

And, more on topic, you can try to find more people inclined to command-and-control for Council. But no matter how big you make a police force, and no matter how many prisons you fill, you will not be addressing the root causes of homelessness or addiction and their lamentable impacts. Again, Council made some good budget decisions.

Seth Anthony

Fescue said, “You’ll just have to accept that someone thinks differently than you“.

Au contraire. The suspicion has nothing to with whether or not someone thinks differently than another.
But alas! Yet another one of your proverbial veiled insults. Not only did you deliberately dodge the suspicion, you also claimed that we’re closed minded because we don’t agree with your incessant admiration for EVERYTHING that council does (even when presented with the facts and logic that show the council is wrong).
BTW- This isn’t just about the police budget. It’s also about the constant millions spent on useless endeavors such as the arts, the bike lanes on 7 Av S, endless indegenous centres and the like, the “beautification” of downtown, etc, etc. All of which are pointless when looked at objectionally. But as usual, the politicians spend our money on vote buying, pet projects, and virtue signalling.

Fescue

Calling Dr. Freud: ‘… When looked at objectionally’.

I understand that there are those who believe the City budget should solely entail a police officer on every corner. But I believe that virtue is something we should aspire to. I also believe that beautification and the arts do more for community well-being than overflowing prisons.

Seth Anthony

All of that either misses the point, or is deliberate attempt at twisting the issues.

Calling Dr. Freud: ‘… When looked at objectionally’.

So one of the most important characteristics a person can have, is nothing more than a juvenile quip to you.

I understand that there are those who believe the City budget should solely entail a police officer on every corner.

Now you’re just being asinine.

But I believe that virtue is something we should aspire to.

No one said we shouldn’t. The problem is when it used for corrupt and/or pointless purposes.

I also believe that beautification and the arts do more for community well-being than overflowing prisons.

That’s just a meaningless generalization followed by a bizarre reference to prisons. Beautification is fine, but it’s the specific execution in Lethbridge that is the problem. More specifically, creating an environment of crime, then trying to cover it up with shrubbery and flowers. It’s lipstick on a pig that council helped to create.

Art is a niche, and more importantly a subjective niche. Hey, let’s give $300,000 of taxpayers money to that “public art” that has no benefit to anyone expect the artist laughing all the way to the bank. Furthermore, just about any 12 year old could have came up with something similar for 100 bucks.

Millions and millions spent on these art centers that serve no beneficial purpose. Take those millions and spend it on things that actually help people. For example, more mri and health care machines, drug and alcohol treatment facilities, etc.

If a few want their art centre, then they should fund it themselves, and not force everyone else to pay for it.

Fescue

“If a few want more police, then they should fund it themselves.” You see, it is a matter of values. City Council must balance the many needs of a community. The command-and-control crowd still have their enforcement with a very healthy budget. We also need some of the very things that you and others disparage – support for the homeless and addicts, beautification and the arts for the enlightened : ), well-kept parks and natural areas, arms-length sports and economic and environmental councils, the municipal golf course, etc. etc.

I’m glad we have a majority of City Councillors that are (com)passionate about their duties. (And we still have room for our three whited sepulchers to pander to the cranks).

Seth Anthony

You actually just compared the desire for public safety to millions constantly being spent on art centres that accomplish little to nothing in raising human health and well being. You then have the arrogance to claim that those who don’t want to pay for these art centres are not “enlightened”.
UN-BE-LIEVABLE

Seth Anthony

I’ve finished the book Fescue. I completely agree with the author. Which of course is why I have always claimed that the proposed solutions are nothing more than pie in the sky ideas that will accomplish nothing.

In just about every conceivable way, society is doomed. That is not a prediction, it’s an inevitability.

Fescue

Yes, an interesting and provocative book. Certainly, our commenter Already Extinct was enthusiastic about it.

I’m not sure what you are referring to as regards ‘public safety.’ I haven’t read of any concerns from the LPS. Unless you meant our more unfortunate citizens.

As for ‘enlightenment’, I admit to stirring it a bit there (hence the smiley emoticon that followed).

Seth Anthony

My favorite chapter was, “How many voters…”?

More specifically, the delusion held by most that because we can vote, must mean that we live in a Democracy.

As Kyo puts it:

When did voting become the essence of democracy? That makes about as much sense as saying the exclamation mark is the essence of the sentence!

Slow clap Kyo.



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