Editor of the Hope City Telegraph
The editor expressed the view that overall the Police Service is run well but not very much in line with more modern views of community involvement. The Chief does not often volunteer to speak with the press but waits to be asked. As a result, not too many of the key newspaper reporters and editors know him or his deputies very well. In other cities, chiefs and deputies have adopted a more proactive approach and are coming to the press with news and issues – not just the usual press release stuff designed to make them look good.
Situating his paper as a watchdog over municipal spending, the editor noted that the Telegraph frequently takes issue with growing municipal expenditures, of which police expenditures represent an ever-increasing portion. In particular, he noted that overtime expenditures appear to be out of control, and that the annual ritual of demanding extra money to cover these growing costs suggests that the police budget needs a major overhaul (i.e., better forecasting and more controls).
Citizens against Racism Community Group
The informal leader of this group reported that she feels that the Police Service is often too quick to pick on visible minority youths and men. She does not feel the police are in tune with modem Canadian society, and wants to see a lot more visible minority officers, as well as mandatory diversity training for officers.
She stated that some of the group's members are getting very upset with this perceived racism and are ready to make this an issue for the courts. They are talking about civil suits and lots of media interviews. She also admits that they have no real data on which to base their conclusions but they know racism when they see it – and it is clearly in the Hope City Police Service culture. She wants to see fewer arrests of young people and more diversity.
While complaining of police heavy-handedness and racism, she noted that some communities with large ethnic populations are seeing little or no police presence in spite of increased complaints from residents about growing youth problems, including vandalism, noise, and assaults. When pressed on how this increase was recorded, she indicated that this is anecdotal, as many ethnic groups are reluctant to seek formal police help through 911 or even 311. Presumably, she would like any increased police presence to occur in the person of visible minority officers.
Moreover, as an alternative to increased policing to deal with youth problems, she put forth her group's position that more of the city budget should be going to community-based groups to establish recreational and social programs for young people. She does not view the police as a potential partner in this process. In fact, she and her supporters are actively working with other community groups to make sure they get a bigger piece of the pie and the police get less. They are also actively lobbying city councillors, many of whom she feels seem to be agreeing with them. She intends to make this case to the mayor and CAO before the next budget talks occur.