Good cop, bad cop, expensive cop

Good cop, bad cop, expensive cop The true cost of keeping police on the beat and the current price we pay for the police begs a fundamental rethinking of the role and purpose of the police. Police spending in Canada rose to $14 billion in 2009/2010, up f

The true cost of keeping police on the beat and the current price we pay for the police begs a fundamental rethinking of the role and purpose of the police.

Police spending in Canada rose to $14 billion in 2009/2010, up from $9 billion just five years ago. Much of the burden of this rise fell on local muncipal taxpayers.

By far, the major portion of the increased spending Ð just over three quarters Ð has been devoted to staffing, with rising numbers across the different staff sectors.

Spending has gone up by nearly a half, but the value of this huge increase is much harder to pin down.

We now have the largest police service ever in our history. Yet there seems to be no clear rationale behind this incremental growth, nor a clear measure of its success.

Despite threats by the Conservative Party of Canada to introduce massive cuts in public spending, they made no firm commitments to curb the runaway policing bill in their manifesto pledges. And the provincial and municipal governments don’t want to go there.

Here is a stark warning: A new political debate about police numbers could become a sterile diversion unless there is a fundamental discussion about what the police are for, and what that means for the public purse.

William Perry

Victoria, BC