July 20th, 2024

Photo radar discussion hides the fact that Medicine Hat Police Service is not fully funded

By Letter to the Editor on August 11, 2017.

It is time to stop our constant attempts to vilify the Medicine Hat Police Service for their use of photo radar. Photo radar (and red light cameras) were advertised and sold to cities everywhere as both a traffic enforcement tool and a revenue generator. And it serves both functions.

Truth is, the whole photo radar discussion is a red herring. It hides the fact that the Police Service is not fully funded. Of the $24.7 million spent in 2016, $5.6 million came from licences, fines, and penalties as well as the dreaded “other revenue.”

Council (not only this one) has abdicated its responsibility, to both the citizens and the police, for sound fiscal management.

It is not the role of the MHPS to self-fund.

The only relationship that council has with MHPS, beyond appointing the police chief and the police commission, is budgeting. Police independence from political interference is a hallmark of democracy. The police are like every city department; budgets are presented and passed or amended. No magic. The MHPS is more than capable of ensuring its excellent service delivery within the city’s fiscal framework.

The days of a beat cop with a nightstick are long gone. From school liaison and petty crime, to child pornography, to drugs, gangs, and guns, policing has become a much more complex proposition. We have a well trained, dedicated, professional service and everyone in the city benefits from their efforts.

If we wish to maintain this high quality, all of us must pay. No partial funding with the proviso that council has given the police a tool to make up any budget shortfall.

Honest budgeting and sound fiscal management will allow the MHPS to do what it does best, police.

Immanuel Moritz

Medicine Hat

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