VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — There will be no additional money heading to the Vancouver Police Department or the New Westminster Police next year.
Vancouver Council and New Westminster council have passed their 2021 budget and both decided funding for their police departments will be held at this year’s levels.
VPD Chief speaks out against budget
In a statement from VPD Chief Adam Palmer, he says this will mean 61 fewer police recruits hired next year.
“I am disappointed with today’s budget vote. I am concerned this decision will directly impact public safety in Vancouver and the wellness of our officers,” he says.
“Some elected officials have tried to position this as a status quo budget by holding the VPD at 2020 funding levels. This is simply not true. Maintaining 2020 budget levels leaves the VPD with a $5.7 million shortfall to meet fixed cost obligations.”
#TY to all the people who came out to #SupportThePolice – #Vancouver City Council just approved the 2021 budget, which means 61 fewer #VPD police recruits in 2021 #RealityCheck @VancouverPD @VanPoliceBoard @CityofVancouver #defunded pic.twitter.com/A601fZLbS3
— Adam Palmer (@ChiefPalmer) December 9, 2020
But Councillor Christine Boyle — who voted in favour of the budget — says it didn’t make sense to give the VPD the $6-million it was looking for because next year’s budget is already going to be $17-million less than this year due to the effects of COVID-19.
Additionally, Boyle says council has heard multiple calls from residents to find new approaches to public safety. And Boyle says Tuesday’s decision is a step in that direction, especially with council’s “commitment” to find alternate solutions to respond to public safety.
“We need senior levels of government to re-fund the decades of cuts that have happened to mental health supports, to welfare rates, to affordable housing, to education and more, so that we can be getting at the root cause of many of the calls that police end up responding to,” she tells NEWS 1130.
“I think we need a new additional type of public service that can respond to emergency calls with an expertise in de-escalation and in mental health. And a response that’s trauma-informed and that’s connected to communities most impacted.”
Glad to see Council support my amendment to hold the police budget at 2020 levels.
AND @councillorwiebe and I’s amendments to invest in reconciliation, anti-racism, strengthening democracy, and enhancing park and street cleaning.
— Christine Boyle (@christineeboyle) December 9, 2020
Boyle says this year council wanted to “start to shape those alternatives” and in the new year, “look at how we adequately fund them.”
Boyle adds, she doesn’t think fewer officers will impact public safety and it’s up to the VPD to adjust to the budget.
“I am confident that we can continue to maintain a good level of public safety as we go through a second wave and as we move through the next year.”
The 2021 budget also includes a five per cent property tax increase.
“More funding for critical areas like street cleaning, sanitation, community policing, overdose response, supports for small businesses, housing, and homelessness will help our residents and businesses weather a difficult time while setting our entire city up for a stronger post-pandemic recovery,” a statement from the city reads.
New Westminster City Councillor pleased by refused increase
After New Westminster City Council shot down the New West PD’s requests for the extra cash Monday, Councillor Nadine Nakagawa says the choice echoes the city’s support for groups like Black Lives Matter.
Yesterday I moved a motion to send the police budget back to the police board asking them to implement a 0% operational budget increase this year. It narrowly passed. A reminder that Black Lives Matter. MMIWG matter. Change is possible, but only if we insist on it. #BLM #MMIWG
— Nadine Nakagawa (@NadineNakagawa) December 8, 2020
“The budget increase in general, went against what was being asked by people who are most negatively impacted by police,” she tells NEWS 1130.
“I was unwilling to improve to approve an increase to the policing budget and want instead to focus on moving towards that positive change and taking care of people in our community in ways that we know as possible.”
Nakagawa adds she hopes New Westminster can be a pilot city when it comes to moving away from policing to community care.
“Police themselves acknowledge that they are not the best resource to address these issues and we could have a model instead, where we take care of the people who are most impacted and an increase in the police budget does not move us in that direction.”
Nakagawa says she believes the police board and council are on the same page in addressing systemic and societal issues “through care and not policing.”