Chief Constable Adam Palmer says that he’s “disappointed” and “concerned” after a budget reduction was decided for the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) in 2021.
The decision was made by Vancouver City Council on Tuesday evening when members voted on each 2021 budget item separately.
“The Vancouver Police Board requested $322 million for 2021 to maintain current staffing and public safety levels,” writes Chief Palmer in a statement. “City Council voted to approve a budget of $316 million. This means 61 fewer police recruits will be hired to meet public safety challenges in 2021.”
Palmer argues that while some City Council members saw maintaining the VPD budget as keeping “status quo,” it leaves the police with “a $5.7 million shortfall to meet fixed cost obligations.”
“I am disappointed with [Tueday’s] budget vote,” he adds. “I am concerned this decision will directly impact public safety in Vancouver and the wellness of our officers.”
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Mayor Kennedy Stewart also addressed Vancouver’s 2021 budget on Tuesday evening, saying that it makes “key investments to support residents through COVID-19″ while minimizing the property tax increase and holding the police budget to 2020 levels.
“Budget 2021 is a direct response to the challenges of COVID-19, focusing on and prioritizing services for residents and businesses under stress,” says Stewart.
“More funding for critical areas like street cleaning, sanitation, community policing, overdose response, supports for small businesses, housing, and homelessness will help our residents and businesses weather a difficult time while setting our entire city up for a stronger post-pandemic recovery.”
On Tuesday evening, the city council approved a 5% property tax hike for 2021. The decision follows hearing from nearly 250 public speakers over the course of several days.