Are we, the citizens of Thunder Bay getting value for the $32,000,000 plus annual police budget? Is Thunder Bay a safe place? Are crime rates going down? How much money is enough? How can the citizens know? Safety is a “feeling”. Feeling safe and being safe do not always go hand in hand. The “feeling” part can be manipulated through the media and spin. The “being” part is almost always irrelevant.
If the object is to defend the existing police budget, then things are getting safer. If the object is the defend budget increase requests, then there’s a murderous horde advancing on the city. It happens every year.
Ninety percent of the budget goes to pay salaries and benefits of the officers and staff. The rest, pays for everything else. In the big scheme of things, the $3.2 million seems like such a small amount of money it makes you wonder if there are sacrifices being made in equipment in order to pay the officers’ wages. There is only so much money.
The Enhanced Infrastructure Renewal Program, a slush fund created by City Hall to pay for departmental budget extras, is already slated to pay for the installation of video equipment in police cars. The fire department is buying an $800,000 fire truck out of this program, so why would the police not use this fund to buy new cars, motorcycles, tanks, guns, helicopters or whatever?
What I am saying is that it is possible that one day, 100% of the police budget will go to pay salaries and benefits. The “everything else” will be covered under something like the Enhance Security Infrastructure Renewal Program that will be created to pay for the Police Infrastructure Deficit that I am sure is coming.
The public will be hit by a huge PR campaign explaining that the polices’ Thin Blue Line is all that is standing between you and a fate worse than hell. In actual fact, the police stand between your murder getting away with the crime and not. You will still be dead. Police do not stop crime. Police investigate and try to bring criminals to justice. Not exactly the same thing. Hence the term Law Enforcement. Crime prevention is the Holy Grail for police but the public has a lot to do with that as does social issues.
That 90% is only going to get bigger. The police department eats money like Takeru Kobayashi eats hot dogs: Fast and in large quantities.
The police will be over budget again this year. They will no doubt be asking for an increased budget next year. With the financial fallout from geysergate, more money needed for the money pit commonly known as Prince Arthur’s Landing, as well as more infrastructure renewal should provide the Thunder Bay taxpayer with a huge increase. Service cuts will be threatened as usual. A Municipal Performance Survey will show people think City Administration is doing a fantastic job. Another poll will show residents are happy to pay more for less.
Welcome to 2013.