Police warn they'll be stretched thinner as federal fund dries up
Law enforcement officials across the country say anti-gang squads & Aboriginal police are on the line & resources are about to be stretched thin.
The warning comes as a federal program aimed at putting 2, 500 more cops on the street is about to expire.
The federal government budgeted $400-million for the Police Officer Recruitment Fund as part of its tough-on-crime agenda.
Provinces were given the responsibility of deciding how to spend the money. The two most populous ones got the biggest share, with $156-million going to Ontario & $92.3 million to Quebec.
In an email, a spokeswoman for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, reaffirmed the government's commitment to cracking down on gangs.
Julie Carmichael writes, "We were pleased to make a significant one-time investment in the provinces and territories to help them bolster their police forces and ensure they had the tools to crack down on gun, gang and drug crime. We will continue to crack down on gangs and organized crime across the country through tough measures, like our new sentences for gun crimes associated with organized crime, including drive-by shootings.''
But Chief Stephen Tanner, president of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, is less upbeat & predicts difficult consequences ahead as the funding ends.
He pointed particularly to shortfalls in Aboriginal policing, where 11 officers will likely be cut from the 150-strong Nishnawabe-Aski Police Service, one of North America's largest
indigenous police departments.
Tanner points out the Nishnawabe-Aski force, which is spread out across 34 communities, polices some of the most impoverished small towns in Ontario's far north.
"They may have to withdraw their services from one or two small communities,'' Tanner said. "If they have to do that, the Ontario Provincial Police may be forced to go in to police those communities.''
That would place further strain on the OPP at a time when it's looking at cutting 125 officers, he said. He added that the force is already under the number required.
Tanner said pulling about $1 million in police salary from the aboriginal force could actually end up costing $2-million to $3-million if the OPP has to take over.
When the funding was announced in 2008, the Ontario government said $78-million would go toward hiring 125 OPP officers, $58-million would help municipal police hire up to 164 officers & $20 million would be used to fund 40 new police officers for First
Nations police services.
(The Canadian Press)