After much public outcry, Calgary city council has reversed its decision to defund the police.
Calgary city council has decided to fund additional social services using the city’s rainy-day fund instead of taking funds away from the Calgary Police Service (CPS) budget.
On November 3rd, Calgary city council, with the support of Mayor Naheed Nenshi, voted in favour of a motion to take $20 million from the police over two years to bolster social services concerning mental health and addiction.
However, not all Albertan politicians were in favour of the motion.
After the council voted in favor of defunding the police, Councillor Jeromy Farkas started a petition to “defend the police.” The petition received thousands of signatures and residents of Calgary reached out to their councillors to show support for police.
In addition, police Chief Mark Neufeld said earlier in the week he does not support arbitrary reduction in police services without first reducing the need for police response. A CPS report also shed light on how the CPS would be affected if they were defunded — the loss of $20 million would result in an inability to provide video evidence in a timely manner as well as reduced hiring and training.
After four days of deliberation, the CPS budget was left intact. The budget debate ended with a decision to fund expanded community investment by $8 million with the city’s rainy-day fund.
CPS will retain the $10 million in the 2021 budget. City council does not decide how the police budget is spent but the option remains for CPS to provide additional funds to social services if they choose to.
While the CPS will not be defunded in 2021, council did not approve a proposal of an additional $10 million for 60 new officers.
“It’s great that the council ultimately made the decision not to defund the police, but by flirting with this concept for so long the damage has been done. The morale on the front lines is a serious issue. I think the council, just like so many Calgarians, need to send a strong message that we support our front line.” said Farkas.
There is strong support for the idea of scaling up existing partnerships between CPS and organizations like Alberta Health Services and existing social agencies rather than funding an “unproven social experiment.”
“There were people calling for defunding or abolishing the police but that was never the mainstream view. Calgarians stepped up in a big way.” said Farkas.