Does more police spending mean less for all the other stuff?

Armchair Mayor
By Mel Rothenburger
December 6, 2017 - 5:30am Updated: December 6, 2017 - 11:25am

KAMLOOPS — The better part of Kamloops City council’s meeting yesterday was spent doing the math on how to do something about crime.

Most of it was about formulas for funding RCMP members, comparing crime rates and staffing with other places, and a request to boost the city’s policing budget.

Supt. Brad Mueller made a strong pitch for increasing the RCMP detachment to deal with a troubling rise in violent crimes and other policing issues that have resulted in sky-rocketing over-time and a need for more resources.

He said a current “flux” in the local drug culture has created uncertainty as low-level dealers try to get control of the trade, leading to several shooting incidents.

He said police must be pro-active, yet have little ability to do so, with even routine calls hard to react to promptly.

There are spill-over effects from social issues as well, such as the increase in calls to areas around mobile drug consumption sites.

Coun. Donovan Cavers made a brief attempt to rein in the number of new officers requested but council was anxious to give Mueller what he wanted.

Coun. Pat Wallace suggested that if taxpayers were asked whether they’d rather pay for more police than a bicycle path or a skating rink, 99 per cent would vote for more police.

She’s probably right. In normal times, the public, and council, might think differently. In normal times, council might hesitate before adding $525,000 to its budget for the coming year, $1.4 million over four years.

But these aren’t normal times. People are worried. So the police numbers will be boosted by a half dozen, and let’s hope it helps.

But if people are willing to spend more on policing, but less on other things, I can’t help but wonder what will happen to other quality-of-life projects. Will Kamloops suddenly stop building as it tries to clean up its streets?

Will things like parks, recreation, and the arts, be forgotten?

I hope not.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.