Joey’s Notepad: Where Councillors Stand on the Police Budget

Joey Coleman/The Public Record

The Chief of Police badge worn by Hamilton Chief of Police Eric Girt

Hamilton City Council discussed the Hamilton Police Budget for three and half hours last Wednesday, including the police budget presentation.
YouTube link to the start of the discussion.

Wednesday’s presentation was not a debate. While some councillors stated their stance on the budget, others stated they will await the police budget debate later in the budget process to state their position.

The Police Board approved a 6.71 percent budget increase for 2023. Council can only vote yes or no to the Police Board request. They cannot amend it.

If Council votes against the budget, the Police Board can appeal to the Ontario Civilian Police Commission.

To ensure accuracy, I’m being very cautious about stating a councillor’s position unless it is clearly articulated.

(This is why, even in instances in which their questions could be read as indicating a position, especially in light of past comments or opposition to police budget increases, I do not categorize in favour or opposed.)

It is good governance to ask critical questions. There should be no sacred cows.

In Favour: 7 Members

Ward 5 Matt Francis
“I’m impressed with this budget. I’m happy to support it. I’m thankful for you guys.”

Ward 6 Tom Jackson
“Chief, I think this is a reasonable budget.”

Ward 7 Esther Pauls
Voted in favour of the budget at the Police Services Board.
“I see the budget increase of 6.71 as a catch-up budget.”

Ward 8 John Paul Danko
“Through this maintenance budget here, the vast majority of that budget is not negotiable, that it’s already been locked in. So if this council was to make the decision that we weren’t going to fund a 6.71 percent increase. The only result of that, hypothetically, would be a cut to frontline officers.”

“Nobody actually campaigned on removing frontline officers or defund the police. ”

Ward 11 Mark Tadeson
“From my experiences during the campaign, there was an overwhelming desire, need support for more police presence in Glanbrook and the rural areas.”

Ward 14 Mike Spadafora
“You know, it’s a tough job. And I, you know, a big supporter of the Hamilton Police Services during my campaign and knocking on doors.” Spadafora stated he hopes to see more visible policing in the community.

Ward 15 Ted McMeekin
“I’m impressed with the budget. [I] intend to support it.”

Opposed: 1 Member

Ward 2 Clr Cameron Kroetsch
Kroestch voted against the budget increase at the Police Services Board.

Statements by other Council Members

Mayor Andrea Horwath
The Mayor asked questions on crime prevention, social determinants, efforts for diversion and resolution to prevent people from ending up in the criminal justice system.

The Mayor shared her experiences spending a day with the Hamilton Police social navigator program and the HPS collaboration with community agencies and supports.

“It was pretty moving, to be honest with you,” she said of how people were welcoming of the social navigator and the navigators relationships.

“Pople who were having difficulties, whether it was drug use or mental health when they saw the officer show up with a or a person show up with social navigator on their vest. It was positive.”

The Mayor stated she is a “big supporter” of the social navigator. She encouraged members of Council to go for a ride-along with this program.

Ward 1 Maureen Wilson
“My understanding is that the Hamilton Police Service has increased its budget by 70% and last 20 years. I’d like that confirmed. But I do think it’s important for us to have a debate on the measure of our expenditures in terms of quantum in those things that we deemed to be preventative in nature. Housing is preventative in nature. expending money on recreational services is preventative in nature. expending money, church money, and public health is expenditure is preventative in nature.”

Ward 3 Nrinder Nann
Asked how Hamilton Police define adequate and effective policing – the required standard for municipalities to fund police under the Police Services Act.
“How does the Hamilton Police Services define adequacy and effectiveness? And is there a measurement tool that the service uses as as it relates to defining the target as well as measuring that target?”

Ward 4 Tammy Hwang
Hwang asked questions regarding use of technology, open data, and transparency.

Ward 9 Brad Clark

Clark asked when the 13 new police officers proposed in the budget will be hired. He also asked why police are required to respond to mental health distress calls.
Clark thanked Hamilton Police for their response to a 2021 Upper Stoney Creek shooting which left one person dead and two people wounded.

Ward 12 Craig Cassar
Asked questions on metrics, practices, and recruitment constraints due to a limited number of seats at the Ontario Police College.
At the end of his questions, he stated:
“Those are all my questions. So personally, thank you for the time you’ve invested here today. And on behalf of Ward 12, for everything that HPS does. ”

Ward 13 Alex Wilson
Wilson asked questions regarding crime prevention, the Police Services Acts budget process, and if the City can reduce traffic enforcement costs by using non-sworn civilians in place of sworn police officers.


Production Details
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Published: January 17, 2023
Last edited: January 22, 2023
Author: Joey Coleman
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