Is Nova Scotia’s policing model sustainable?

Darrell Cole
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‘We need everyone working together, not in silos’

Retired CBRM chief of police Edgar MacLeod speaks to the provincial chiefs of police and police boards fall conference in Amherst on Friday.

AMHERST – The present model of policing in Canada is dysfunction and needs to change in order to respond to growing demands and to control spiraling budgets, says the former chief of the Cape Breton Regional Police Department and head of the Atlantic Police Academy.

Speaking to the Nova Scotia Association of Police Chiefs and police boards fall conference, Edgar MacLeod said most people have no idea how their tax dollars are being spent.

“Do we know where our tax dollars are going with respect to policing? Do know what activities that envelope of money is funding?” MacLeod asked those in attendance at the conference during a panel discussion on the economics of policing. “The fact is there is only one Joe out there with four pockets and everyone is after that money.”

Municipalities across Nova Scotia are facing the challenge of maintaining their own police departments while budgets continue to climb. It’s a question that has troubled Springhill which is looking for ways to bring its budget under control. It’s also of concern to Amherst and other towns that have municipal forces.

MacLeod said the federal and provincial governments need to bring the stakeholders together to discuss the future of policing, and while the conservation has sort of begun he said most are continuing to operate in silos.

He said there’s no need for many smaller departments to have specialized services like forensics and emergency response teams. Instead, he suggested following Quebec’s model which has special units strategically placed around the province.

He said the conversation is needed on roles and responsibilities and coming to an agreement on how to pay for it so smaller police departments will know where the resources are when needed without having to break their budgets to maintain their own.

David Walker, the mayor of Bridgewater and the chair of the police boards association, said Nova Scotia is on the cusp of a perfect storm when it comes to maintaining policing and controlling budgets.

Like MacLeod, he said it’s going to take a multi-party response with everyone bringing part of the solution to the table.

“We need everyone working together, not in silos,” Walker said. “We need to find a model that works in Nova Scotia. If we don’t discuss partnerships we will never solve the problem.”

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

Organizations: Cape Breton Regional Police Department, Atlantic Police Academy, Nova Scotia Association of Police Chiefs

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, AMHERST, Canada Quebec Bridgewater

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