London, Ont. council approves nearly $4 million for police hires


London city council approved a nearly $4-million business case for city police to hire 24 full-time employees. The desired hirings are part of the police service’s plan to hire 52 new officers over the next three years.The approval on Tuesday during a regular council meeting came in the form of members voting to receive a report about the assessment growth business cases the city received and approved.Assessment growth is the additional property taxes a municipality collects from new or expanded homes and businesses. Of the $14.1 million in available assessment growth funding, city staff allocated roughly $11.9 million for 20 business cases, the largest of which is for police hires. Story continues below advertisement In their application, city police sought $3.95 million to hire 20 officers and four civilian staff. Of the $3.95 million, $3.41 million will be used for the hires, with $550,000 for equipment and vehicles.Last month, acting police chief Trish McIntyre told Global News there was a “definite need” to add more resources to the police service.“We are short-staffed. We can see this reflected in our call times. Our response times, especially for non-emergency issues, has gone way up. Our complaints from the public on poor service times has gone way up,” McIntyre said.According to the business case from police, the officer-to-population ratio in London is 145 officers per 100,000 people. The provincial average is 181 officers per 100,000. Further, police say there was a roughly 30 per cent jump in violent offences from 2020 to 2021, hindering their ability to deal with non-violent crimes in a timely manner. Trending Now “The complexity of those investigations remains high, so it takes us longer to be able to service those types of calls. And then our calls are triaged, so our response time remains poor on non-emergency calls,” said McIntyre.Tuesday’s vote at council was 13-1, with Coun. Skylar Franke the lone no vote and Coun. Sam Trosow absent. Story continues below advertisement At a previous strategic priorities and policy committee meeting, Franke said she would be voting no on receiving the report as she was unsure if the additional money was necessary for the excess calls. Franke said since many of the calls police respond to are mental health-related, funding to help cover additional officers for that purpose should be considered a provincial matter.“I think we are covering provincial health-care funding through sending police officers to deal with things we should be sending doctors, nurses and social workers to be dealing with,” said Franke during the Feb. 28 meeting.While some councillors agreed at the time with the need for more mental health support from the province, the rest, in the end, supported the motion, with most saying the force still needs the support.Earlier this week, Mayor Josh Morgan told Global News he supported the business case made by police, adding that the funding is something police need to restore service levels.“People are required to report more things online, police are not attending for days for minor crimes, and the police board wants to restore some of those services for Londoners,” said Morgan.According to city staff, the funding will be distributed shortly to all business cases. &copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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