Baillie: Enhanced municipal police investment means safer neighbourhoods

May 20, 2017 at 10:02 am

Vision: Safer Streets, Secure Communities

A Progressive Conservative government will restore Stephen McNeil’s cuts to the Boots on the Street program, also known as the Additional Officer Program. Boots on the Street has proven that more municipal policing keeps communities safer.

“Nova Scotians should feel safe and secure in their own homes and communities,” said Baillie. “The Boots on the Street program is part of that security, and Stephen McNeil’s Liberals decided they could slash the budget without anyone noticing.”In 2016, while Boots on the Street was under a 10-year review, Justice Minister Diana Whalen struggled to explain why $500,000 was cut before the review had been completed. Whalen insisted her department was “reviewing” to “make it … more robust,” but did not clarify how cuts would achieve this.

In fact, the McNeil Liberals recklessly cut 10 per cent of the program’s funding, to the tune of $1.5 million, during their mandate. These cuts came as violent crime continued to rise, with assaults up 30 per cent this year in Halifax, and overall crime up 4.61 per cent.

In addition to patrol officers, Boots on the Street also supports critical initiatives like mental health training for police officers, training also on McNeil’s chopping block with other important local services.

When asked about the value of the program, police in Nova Scotia are clear. “The Boots on the Street program is vital for public safety in our province,” said President of the Nova Scotia Police Chiefs Association, Chief Peter McIsaac. “While it might be extra frontline patrol officers, it might also be for officers providing specialized services for mental health issues, or community policing and crime prevention programs.

“It’s enforcement plus preventative, proactive, protective policing that contributes to the total well-being of individuals and communities. Police absolutely support Boots on the Street as important to public safety, and it’s a message we have shared with all parties.”

A PC government will restore $1.5 million per year in municipal police funding to ensure that police force numbers and services are maintained and expanded in local communities. Cutting the program before the review is complete is reckless.

“McNeil can talk all he wants about finding efficiencies – a cut is a cut. This puts community safety at risk and makes it more difficult for Nova Scotian families to live healthy, productive lives,” said Baillie. “As premier, I’ll be committed to a Nova Scotia where we do everything we can to keep criminal activity off our streets.”

May 15th to 21st is National Police Week in Canada.