Ottawa Municipal Election 2006: Police Budget
Some who know me think I’m anti-Police. My realtionship with the authorities is pretty good whenever I deal with ’em ironically. If I’m ever pulled over by police (no, it doesn’t happen often) I’m polite and generally don’t have any trouble. There have however been a couple of events where things didn’t go particularly well. One event in late 2005 resulted in my arrest for the 1st time in my life, and the circumstances of that event coupled with the fact I was completely innocent of the charge in question (which I eventually proved in court) had me thinking the police here are too often tasked to aggressively go after people who are guilty of relatively minor offenses while more serious crime goes uninvestigated or addressed.
Ottawa has, per capitta, the largest police force of any city in the country. There are several reasons for this; yet the populace still doesn’t seem satisfied. The perception amongst callers to local talk radio remains that crime is on the rise, even though virtually all the statistics published by the City of Ottawa police tells a different story. This is especially interesting given the solvency rates cited in the stats officials publish indicate that traffic crimes have average solvency between 75-100% while property crimes havea solvency rate of only 20%.
Perhaps the fact that statistic applies to me too with over $10,000 worth of computer equipment stolen in the last 3 years – yeah that might have something to do with it. The old cliché of police clucking their toungues agreeing my latest victimization is unfortunate is all too familliar to me.
Add to this that the largest chunk of the City’s municipal budget is policing and you have the recepie for why Ottawa is an over-taxed police-state. One can’t travel from one end to the city to the other without stumbling accross at least 2 or 3 police cars! And yet the lil’ ol’ ladies calling CFRA still cry for more – because they feel unsafe.
Yet these elder citizens forget that the police aren’t going to actually make things safer. Crime is on the decline already, so new police resources are getting redirected to other crime – apparently traffic offences, fines from which line the city’s coffers no doubt.
Interestingly, there was no mention of drug crime in any of the statistics. These stats would be interesting since cops usually treat drug busts as "high-profile" and particularly since drug abuse is so pervasive. Again – particularly in Ottawa – one of two cities in Canada thinking about adding themselves to list of 2 or 3 cities in Canada that will shortly be offering galleries for drug addicts. (Yeah, it’s time to admit it – this is a very, very serious problem in our city!)
I think when I’m in the ballot box this November, I’ll be paying some attention to what the platforms say about police spending. We need a police force – but one with its priorities oriented toward the needs of the city; to protect the public and property of Ottawa’s citizens. I’m not interested in improving on the near-perfect solvency rates for traffic offences, nor cracking down even harder on useless drug busts. I want my property protected better – 20% solvency is rediculous and, I’m sure, well below where it could be were such crimes given the attention they were due.