Good cop, bad cop
The Harris "cut-back" government has just announced it will provide Ontario's communities with funding to hire 1,000 new police officers. This amount will only cover half the salary for each person for five years and therefore it is up to each municipal government to provide the rest.
The problem which has arisen is that the City of London does not feel there is a large enough budget to accommodate so many new police and therefore changes may be needed to be made to the police budget so taxes don't rise.
Common sense would argue, if you're going to ask for 30 new employees, you'd better have the budget to pay for them. If London police knew the city was going to have to fund half of these salaries, wouldn't they have made sure it was going to be accommodated?
If London can't use the 30 they've been allocated, due to lack of money, not lack of need, they should let the Ontario government know. Surely another community somewhere has a few dollars to make its citizens feel safe.
Some citizens may argue that there appear to be enough police on patrol downtown, particularly those surrounding the busy weekend bar scene. But for all of those cars concentrated in one area, there are other areas which are not being covered.
What about the outer neighbourhoods and areas with only one car on patrol? Additional police may seem unnecessary, but in consideration of the fact London has the lowest officer-to-citizen ratio in the entire country, something must be done.
If the London police themselves are saying, specifically, there is a need for more police then how can councillors deny the city its right to be safe? If the Harris government is actually willing to give instead of take then how can councillors turn the offer down? By making a compromise with the government and saying London only needs a few more police, the appearance of satisfaction is created.
Obviously, citizens don't want to be paying ridiculous taxes. London Mayor Dianne Haskett has responded by saying the police budget could be changed around. Hopefully Haskett and city council will be able to make up their minds about this issue and stick to their decisions, before the provincial government changes its mind.
If Mike Harris is willing to give you something, you'd better take it and run.