As part of budget deliberations at city hall, councillors grilled Edmonton’s Police Chief over his request to add millions to the city’s police force in next year’s budget.

In mid-November, Police Chief Rod Knecht and the Edmonton Police Commission brought their requests for a total $20 million increase to the EPS budget.

The increase was broken up with $13.5 million for non-discretionary costs to cover contracts and maintenance, and the $6.5 million remaining would go to the addition of more positions.

On Tuesday, councillors questioned Knecht’s request – asking him to justify why police needed the extra funding.

Knecht said 29 more officers would be hired, and more money is needed for prisoner transport.

One major need EPS officers will have to fill will be transporting prisoners to Edmonton’s new Remand Centre – which is located several kilometres away from the current downtown facility, located across the street from the Law Courts and Edmonton Police Service headquarters.

“We know April 6 is the drop dead date for us when we have to start moving people from the downtown area to the north end of the city,” Knecht said Tuesday. “That’s non-negotiable for us, we’ll inherit that piece of business.”

That job alone will move nine officers off the street.

Knecht also suggested using sheriffs to move prisoners, which would save about $400,000.

In addition, by law, EPS officers must transport prisoners to provincial and federal institutions.

EPS officers transport more than 10,000 prisoners each year.

The Mayor and the Police Chief agreed on the idea to approach the province and the federal government to help cover the cost.

“We appreciate that the province and the federal government have expenses,” Mayor Stephen Mandel said. “But the federal government is cutting billions of dollars in expenses, so why not funnel some of that to the cities where costs are falling to us.”

With files from Brenna Rose