Fresh Takes

Municipal Election – We Need to Rethink Public Safety

Now that municipal elections are here, a number of public policies have taken centre stage. One essential debate, though, is conspicuous by its absence: the administration of public safety. As shown in a research paper that we published recently, the implementation of certain police reforms could save Quebec taxpayers up to $615 million a year.

Indeed, as we explained in this paper, police officers currently spend 40% of their time on various administrative tasks. This time would be better spent on police tasks for which they were trained, like dealing with street gangs and preventing violent crime, by entrusting administrative tasks to subcontractors as has been done in the United Kingdom, among other places.

Another reform would delegate certain less specialized tasks to security personnel. Cities do not need to have highly qualified police officers give out parking tickets or manage traffic near construction sites. Security personnel supervised by police can carry out this work just fine, and save taxpayers money. In Quebec, the median salary for a police officer, including benefits, is $117,000 a year, versus $49,000 for a security professional.

In addition to cities generating substantial annual savings, these reforms would allow police officers to focus on their most important tasks instead of being stuck doing endless paperwork. Different studies carried out in the United Kingdom following the implementation of similar reforms concluded that on top of savings, crime rates fell 14%. In light of these concrete results, the benefits of such reforms are obvious. So, what are we waiting for?

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