CORNWALL, Ontatrio – The Cornwall Police Services Board approved a 2.98 per cent increase to the Cornwall Police Service (CPS) budget for 2020. The total budget for 2020 will be approximately $19 million.
CPS Chief Danny Aikman who presented the budget to the Board explained that the reason for the higher than normal increase was due to the rising cost of living.
“What you see in 2020 is that the cost of living has caught up with us,” Aikman said. “The 2020 budget has been the most difficult to come up with a number that adequately meets our needs while respecting Council’s desire to keep the tax rate low. I could have easily brought forth an increase in excess of five per cent by chose not to.”
Aikman clarified that a five per cent budget increase was not something he was in favour of or would seek, but was the number he started with and pared down from to 2.98 per cent.
Deputy Chief Shawna Spowart explained to the Board that many requests were received from CPS departments that were turned down.
“Unless they were deemed essential to our operations, they were zeroed out,” Spowart explained.
“I tend to be a Grinch when it comes to people’s wishlists,” said Aikman.
Around 80 per cent of the CPS budget goes towards salaries and benefits. Members of the Cornwall Police Association (CPA) are receiving an average increase of 1.55 per cent, while the Senior Officers Association is receiving an average increase of 1.85 per cent. Aikman explained that this coming year sees more CPS officers reaching seniority than average and getting larger pay increases because of it.
Another area of increase is in the IT department, where the CPS are asking for an additional $48,057 this year.
“We do not want to find ourselves in the situation of some other services where our services is locked down by ransomware,” Aikman said.
In terms of the service being provided to the community, CPS pointed to lowering crime rates in several areas, such as Sexual Assaults, Aggravated Assaults, and Theft Under $5,000, while seeing crime rate increases in other areas, like Break & Enters. Aikman said that overall, calls for service and arrests were trending upwards for 2019.
Chief Aikman highlighted the work that the CPS was doing in the community through mental health programs like the Vulnerable Sector Mobile Acute Response Team (VSMART) and their work with youths in schools.
“We are a small police service, that plays well above our weight,” Aikman said. “We do a lot in our community that larger police forces can only hope to do.”
Aikman also highlighted for the Board that the CPS was in the process of renewing their basic police standards accreditation with the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) and is only one of six services in Canada to have such an accreditation.
Aikman insisted that the budget presented to the Board is what was required to meet CPS’ needs for 2020 and he worked closely with the City’s Deputy Treasurer Paul Scrimshaw in crafting it.
“This has been one of the most difficult budgets ever,” Aikman said. “I’ve been talking with Paul almost daily on this.”
“We don’t like big increases,” said Cornwall Mayor Bernadette Clement who sits on the Police Services Board. “But we’ve been talking about your needs for awhile now, so we as a board are getting a good idea of your needs.”
CPS currently has 88 frontline officers, 11 of whom are absent. CPS also has 38 civilian members and 14 part-time members. Earlier this year, Aikman asked for an was approved for a 20 per cent increase in his roster of frontline officers to fill vacancies.