Volunteer-staffed stations could be axed in Calgary Police Service budget chop
Brae Centre Community Station's 21st anniversary may be its last.
The community-based police station could be closing its doors due to budget constraints. The decision comes only a year after last September’s platinum celebration.
Five other community stations are also in jeopardy as the city reportedly looks to shed between $8- to $10-million from the Calgary Police Service’s $295-million budget in 2012.
A two-year volunteer, John Seaborn said he doesn't want to see the Brae Centre station closed.
Other locations to be affected:
- Silver Springs
- Victoria Park
- Chinook Centre
- Market Mall
Located just off 24 Street SW, the Brae Centre station employs two full-time constables and around 80 volunteers according to staff.
Volunteers act as liaisons between customers and police, and also prepare paperwork. For instance, volunteers can prepare a motor vehicle accident report. It then goes to an officer for authorization before a damage sticker is given out.
The stations also run the Child Identification Program, which aims to help find missing kids. Parents can take their children to a station to get updated photographs, fingerprints and a laminated contact card.
“I would feel sad that they would close this place,” said John Seaborn, a two-year volunteer with the Brae Centre station. In one way, he said, it would downplay the importance of the volunteers.
“And I think they get tremendous value out of the volunteers here.”
Customers often comment on how much friendlier community-based stations compared to district offices, Seaborn added.
“Volunteers are good community ambassadors,” he said.
Brae Centre Station
11430 Braeside Drive S.W.
Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Volunteers greet customers and prepare paperwork, which then requires officers’ authorization. John Dooks, Calgary Police Association president, said they’re a valuable resource.
“They are the eyes and ears of the police officers in the community,” Dooks said. “It’s a great working relationship.”
However, Dooks also said high overhead costs make the stations highly inefficient. Using the money to staff district offices could help more people, he added.
“The community police stations, although effective and valuable to the community and to the citizens, are not efficient if you’re looking strictly at bang for your buck,” he said.
Calgary Police Service spokeswoman Emma Poole said 85 per cent of the policing budget goes toward staff paycheques and paying for vehicles.
“We’re adamant we’re not going to cut jobs and we’re not going to cut positions,” Poole said. “Therefore all we have left are buildings.”
“We know it causes some angst for the public,” she added. “Those stations — especially that one in Braeside — are quite popular.”
Poole said the Calgary Police Commission has forwarded a recommendation to city council but did not give a timeline as to when the final decision would be made.