London cops beefin' it up
By Dave Yasvinski
The streets of London could soon have as many as 30 new police officers walking the beat if the London police request for funding is approved.
Sgt. John O'Flaherty of the London police said they have put in a request to receive funding for 30 new first-class constables to help alleviate the work load of the 426 officers currently working.
"We are the 10th largest city in Canada and we have one of the lowest police to citizen ratios in the country," he said.
The request was made in response to the Community Policing Partnership program outlined in the provincial budget. Martin McInally, communications assistant at the Ministry of the Solicitor General and Correctional Services said the government has put aside $150 million to be spent over the next five years in an attempt to get 1,000 more officers onto the streets in Ontario.
"It's in the budget because it is important. Personal safety is of paramount importance to Canadians," he said.
According to the program, the $30 million allocated annually to the province will be used to pay for half the salaries of new front-line officers across the province. The increased prevalence of officers can only serve to discourage crime, McInally added.
"If you see a cop on your street once a day, crime will decrease. Criminals will see them and it will have a deterring effect," he said.
O'Flaherty said the only problem he foresees is training officers quickly enough as this program is a province-wide initiative and there is only one police college in Ontario. However, it will still greatly cut down the time it takes to get officers on the street, he added.
"This way they can get officers on the street faster than they would have normally. It would have taken five years, this way it takes two," he said.
Police officers are definitely in short supply, said London city council controller Orlando Zamprogna. "It is not unusual for us to be 20 patrols short what would be called proper coverage on a given night," he said.
Zamprogna added he is optimistic London will receive the funding necessary to hire more officers. "I think the province is serious about this program they want front-line policing," he said.
The police will learn in four to six weeks if they will receive their funding. If approved, the first of the new officers could be on patrol by the middle of next year, Zamprogna said.