|Police Chief Glenn DeCaire|
At the heart of the issue, and what ought to be at the heart of the issue, is the question of what is an appropriate amount of policing resources against the city's needs and crime profile. In that context, Chief DeCaire has an onus and responsibility to bring forth what the Police Service believes to be necessary, given the metrics, regressions stats and intelligence that policing professionals have gathered or can bring to bear on the discussion. To do any less, would be irresponsible. It appears that the Chief has done just that; he has proposed a budget increase that is reflective of a considered approach.
That doesn't necessarily mean it is a slam dunk. Clr. Bernie Morelli and Clr. Terry Whitehead, as reported in The Spec (see the story here) , to a greater or lessor extent asked questions of the Chief and perhaps challenged the argument for the quantum of budget increase. There is room for that discussion and even if it were to become a spirited and pointed exchange, there is also room for that. In our view, there is nothing wrong with this type of back and forth, either with the challenges to the assumptions, or with the responses. In fact, it's healthy. Such exchanges are ordinarily informed by the quality of the information and the strength of the arguments presented. To the extent that the conversation did not rise to the level of a public "grilling" or stoning, may be reflective of the quality of the proposal and the leadership ability of the Chief. There is also room for the Mayor's opinion that the public and council would benefit from a better understanding of the need for the proposed increase.
There are no heroes or villains in this discussion. It is a matter of deciding "how safe" Hamiltonians would like to feel or be, in the context of a greater or lessor degree of police resourcing. Some may argue that fear mongering is a common tactic in an attempt to make the case of alleged disproportionate budget increases. However, those arguments are shaken by the presence of metrics, regression stats and intelligence reflective of a city's crime profile and emerging trends.
Despite all of that, it comes down to striking a balance between risk adversity and cost. It is our view that Chief DeCaire has tabled a responsible proposal in keeping with his responsibility to propose what the service believes to be the best fit relative to Hamilton's needs. It will be up to council and potentially other bodies to render a final decision. Citizen input is an important factor in this discussion and The Hamiltonian hopes that with that input, and with the information put forth by the Chief and the judgment brought to bear by council on behalf of Hamiltonians, we will emerge with a solution that affords respect and acknowledgement to the expertise of our policing professionals while reflecting our tolerance for risk, desire for safety and the related cost considerations.