September 12, 2011
Much of the debate about whether Kamloops should dump the RCMP and go with its own police force — or possibly a provincial force — revolves around whether a local force would be better able to deal with crime. While this might be factor in any decision made down the road, it will be dwarfed by the biggest bone of contention: who pays and how much.
In May, I created a bubble graph based on spending by category in the City’s draft financial plan for 2011. It shows that expenditures on police services come to a whopping $22,704,000. The only other category that comes close is parks, recreation and culture with $21,535,000.
Why so expensive? Much of the cost comes from salaries, which include generous medical plans and pension benefits. There is also the cost of equipment.
Municipalities, including Kamloops, would like to bring those costs under control, and that’s what is driving the negotiations between the provinces and the RCMP for a new contract. But if it comes down to salaries and benefits, then you have to wonder how a municipal or provincial force would cost less.
We could pay them less, but that could be a dangerous path to take. One of the reasons Canada has professional police officers willing to take on criminals is because — for the most part — being a good guy pays better than being a bad guy. It would be in our best interests to make sure it stays that way.