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Calgary's police budget is one of the highest in the country

Despite declining crime rates, policing costs across the country have skyrocketed over the last decade.

The per capita increase for policing nationwide has risen 41 percent, which is roughly the hike to the City of Calgary’s policing budget in the past ten years.

Among Canadian municipalities, Calgary also dedicates one of the highest percentages of its budget to law and order:  23.8 percent of its $1.1 billion annual operating budget. Only the Peel region, south of Toronto, spends more than Calgary on policing at 28.7 percent.

By comparison, police costs in Edmonton account for 13.9 percent of that city’s budget. Toronto spends less than 10 percent, and even Vancouver — which is building more homeless shelters to reduce street crime — spends about one percent less than Calgary.

According to figures from Statistics Canada, crime rates have been on a steady decline for the past decade.

But the Mayor of Halifax notes political pressure is part of the reason for escalating policing costs. Mayor Peter Kelly says politicians hear the call for  “boots on the street” from their constituents, and as a result Halifax has hired more than a hundred new officers.

Besides adding more officers to the pay roll, the Globe & Mail article cites increasing salaries for officers for the escalating budgets; cops spending time in bogged down courts; and duties being downloaded to local police forces by the federal government such as protecting ports and borders as well as guarding consulates.