Had the pleasure to attend a Hamilton Police Services Board meeting on January 20th, 2020.
Above you'll find the linked video for this meeting, but I'd like to summarize some of the perversions that I heard during the close to 3 hours spent at this meeting.
First, we heard from your Chief Eric Girt that the Hamilton Police Service needs 90 police officers to meet the median Canadian average. That's a big problem, and will surely lead to higher attrition, burned out cops and employees, increased sick/WSIB claims and decreased workplace satisfaction. What comes from those, which is of great concern to the public, is increased lawsuits, harassment, and compromised investigations/use of force on the streets of Hamilton. Not good!
With that in mind, surely Eric Girt will prioritize the staffing problem to ensure adequate delivery of services. Well, of course not, this is Eric Girt, after all. His focus was of course traffic. Much of the discussion was regarding the hiring of 8 traffic officers. Strange, traffic officers don't answer the radio as practice, and don't add to the baseline services I expect the police to deliver. Traffic cops focus on ticketing the public under the Highway Traffic Act.
Following this meeting, much of the public discourse about this meeting has been about this prioritization of traffic cops. Many citizens of Hamilton rightfully think that traffic safety is of paramount concern, and that these 8 traffic cops will be of benefit to that concern. Sadly, this is not the case. Although it would seemed to have been thinly veiled as a safety concern by Mr. Girt, it was quite clear that the crux of the 8 traffic cops is about revenue generation. Furthermore, many traffic concerns can be mitigated with infrastructure (road humps as an example). Unfortunately road humps are an expense, not a source of revenue. Now we're clear on how human life is regarded in the City of Hamilton.
In my opinion, the police should never enforce any laws on the basis of generating revenue for the purse holders at the City. This is of great concern, and undermines the existing tax structure from which the police collect their wage. If the City of Hamilton is in the mindset of using their enforcement arm to generate revenue, they are completely disconnected from the expected underpinnings of a free and fair democratic society. The police are already paid. If the police have expenses(like lawsuits) that push their books beyond the ability of the public to cover, than perhaps police management should be replaced.
Perhaps leaders should be selected on the basis of competence, so as to avoid this eventuality.
Perhaps I ask too much.
- Josh Coulter