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BOB’S BLOG: For one brief moment, I clamped down on police budgets

By Bob Wood
January 30, 2013 - 6 comments

Lately there has been a lot in the media about police budgets. Unlike most people’s, police budgets keep getting bigger.

This past December, criminologist Michael Kempa wrote about the issue in a piece in the Toronto Star (SEE HERE).

He cited “leapfrogging” contracts and the ever-increasing complexity of social problems that police deal with as two reasons for the increases.

Kempa thinks we need to get police services back to their “core functions.”

This is, of course, not a new idea. Long-time police critic and former Toronto mayor John Sewell reiterated his long-held view that “police should go back to the fundamentals.”

“Get out of the car instead of using the drive-through lane,” he told the London Free Press (SEE HERE).

But we’ll need courageous municipal politicians to step to the plate, draw a line in the budget sand and force police services to explore these ideas.

I was once such a courageous municipal politician. That’s my story anyway.

There was a day when, through a procedural quirk, I, a simple Ward Councillor, was poised to freeze the police budget. This was when I was Regional Councillor and had for a year ascended to the lofty heights of budget committee member. There were only four on the committee and one member was absent that day. Following my persuasive presentation I believed I had convinced a second member to vote for a freeze to the police budget. We would win the day with a 2-1 majority. Long story short: I had, of course, overrated my procedural and oratorical prowess and the police got their money as they always do. I don’t remember any members of the public or media present that day. All the senior police brass was there though.

I drove like an undertaker for some time after my 15 minutes of oppositional fame. To this day I bet there is no one who does the textbook-perfect lane changes that I do. 


Bob Wood is a housing and poverty advocate and former two-term Burlington City Councillor who is building a bed-and-breakfast with his wife on Lake Erie. 


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