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EPS promising to 'protect the jobs' of officers after 2022 budget increase is slashed


Edmonton's police chief said Thursday he was still figuring out how to deal with a smaller budget than expected next year, after city council approved $11M less than planned.

The previous city council budgeted $395 million for policing in 2022, but that number was adjusted by councillors Wednesday, just weeks before the new year.

Instead, council approved a budget of $384 million, up $1 million from this year.

"We’re gonna look at what this actually means to us. Is there going to be some impacts? You bet there are," chief Dale McFee said Thursday.

"Rule number one is we’re going to protect the jobs of our folks, and we’re going to protect public safety the best we can with the resources we have."

The $11 million that was earmarked for EPS will instead be used for community safety and social programs, at council’s direction.

"I think it sends a really strong message about who we are, and the direction we’re going to take moving forward in the next 4 years," Coun. Erin Rutherford said.

"If we continue to give (EPS) money, we are absolutely not going to see a paradigm shift and a cultural shift that we are all anticipating."

The mayor voted in favour of the revised plan.

Amarjeet Sohi hopes investing in community, mental health and social programs instead will ultimately reduce the workload on police.

"You lift people up when you invest in people. When you invest in the services they need. When you invest in the things that are holding them back and you remove those barriers," Sohi said.

"At the same time making sure that police has the money and the resources to fight organized crime, to deal with gang violence."

During the budget debate Wednesday night, several councillors said the city needs a "culture shift" in policing and social services.

A recent study suggests more than 30 per cent of police calls in Edmonton are not actually for policing, and would be better handled by other professionals with different training.

McFee said EPS would provide more information on what this change means for policing in Edmonton, at a later date.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jeremy Thompson Top Stories

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