North Bay Police Services Chief Scott Tod is confident in his police force’s 2021 budget.
“I think that it’s a reasonable increase given the changes that have happened in policing in the past year,” Tod said following Tuesday’s Police Services Board meeting where the budget was approved.
Policing in North Bay will cost just over $21.2 million in 2021, which represents a 3.22 percent ($655, 972) increase from 2020. This includes $100,000 in savings city hall requested the police to find.
The 2019 budget for the NBPS included a provision to hire eight new police officers over the next two years, including four new hires in 2021.
“I think that the work that was done two years ago has largely influenced the increase in staffing we saw this year,” Tod said.
Tod says the 2021 budget will focus on technology, including gear that will allow officers to access information remotely from their cruisers rather than having to radio a dispatcher.
“We were able to take advantage of the technology at a much cheaper cost,” Tod explained. “Officers can be efficient from their cars rather than being efficient from the office in conducting some administrative and routine tasks associated with police work.”
Another portion of that technology will be earmarked for the rollout of body-worn cameras for officers.
“That has a lot of technology attached to it along with a lot of costs with regards to the human resources to develop the policies and governance authorities behind that,” noted Tod.
The chief hopes to have a full rollout of body-worn cameras for the police service by the end of 2021.
The plan will be to test out the mobile officer technology in the first quarter of the year, arrange the digital evidence management system in the second quarter, a small rollout of body cameras in the third quarter with a full rollout by the end of the year. Regular progress reports will also be taken throughout the year.
In an unprecedented year, Tod says this year’s budget was a challenge to put together for reasons that go beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think the biggest demand that happened on policing are the results of what happened in regards to human rights and the issues of what’s happened in the United States that have transcended into Canada,” Tod said in reference to widespread protests against police seen this year.
“We have to make sure our police service is modernized so that we can show honesty, respect and fairness in respect to human rights in the areas we police,” he finished.