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Cape Breton police ask for budget increase, launch online crime reporting


The chief of the Cape Breton Regional Police has asked for a $1.7 million budget increase for the 2024-2025 fiscal year.

"This year's proposed budget is not seeking any increase to our operational component, other than contractually negotiated wages, salaries and benefits,” Chief Robert Walsh told reporters after Monday’s meeting of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality’s Board of Police Commissioners.

Along with the proposed $32 million budget, the force also laid out some, including the launch of online crime reporting, which asks people to file non-emergency complaints rather than phoning them in.

Walsh said it's more efficient and may save money.

"Property damage, damage to a vehicle, looking at even minor motor vehicle collisions in the future that may be able to be reported to that for insurance purposes,” Walsh said when asked for examples of the types of incidents citizens are being encouraged to report online.

The Board of Police Commissioners also heard about the challenges in recent years of potential new hires being lured elsewhere and how the force is looking at the way other police agencies — like the Halifax Regional Police Force — are set up to deal with mental health calls.

"When you have a separate department, you can do, in my opinion, a much better job of dealing with those issues up front and centre,” said Eldon MacDonald, chair with the Board of Police Commissioners. “It's a little more challenging when it's left just in our municipality to the police department for the most part."

Walsh also projected this past year's budget to be under by nearly $1.2 million, largely due to the number of staff who are off on long-term disability and workers’ compensation.

He said roughly 18 staff are currently off on some kind of leave.

"At one point, it was much greater than that, and again we're trying to do other things to get people back to work,” he said.

The proposed policing budget will go before council when municipal budget deliberations start later in the week.

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