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York Regional Police seek $14.7M budget boost amid rising crime

Police say 3.9% increase is needed to address rise in violent crime — the region saw the most homicides in its history last year — including hiring more officers
2022 03 16  YRP building logo

York Regional Police is seeking a 3.9-per-cent increase in its 2023 operating budget to hire more officers and support staff in response to rising crime.

York Region council gave tentative approval Feb. 9 of the force's budget, amounting to $391.5 million net expenditures, compared to $376.8 million in 2022. The budget includes creating 41 new positions, including frontline and support staff. 

Chief Jim MacSween said the budget is informed by crime trends, includes organizational transformation and is meant to help curb a continued increase in violence in the GTA.

“This is the fourth consecutive year we are asking for staffing to contend with serious violent and organized crimes facing our communities,” he said.

Regional crime trends have gone up in many areas in the past year, according to York Region’s crime trend dashboard. A snapshot of Dec. 30 showed robbery nearly doubled in 2022 from the previous year, with 421 incidents, the chief said.

Crime in other areas were also up, including assault, which increased by 10.4 per cent to 4,673, firearms violations up 35.5 per cent to 206, and other weapons violations up 89.4 per cent to 574. It was also the region’s highest year for homicides, MacSween said, with 20 in 2022, compared to 15 in 2021.

“Increasing growth in the region has contributed to higher crime rates, demands for service and an increasing need for police intervention,” MacSween said. “This budget includes additional frontline resources to increase visibility to deter crime.” 

The cost to add 41 members to the force is $6 million over four years. Included in that are new community support officers meant to support patrol officers and investigators at the district level. They will take on tasks like education, traffic control, canvassing for witnesses, and being a visible presence.

“Safer communities require more than frontline officers, and this budget addresses growth needs,” MacSween said. 

The budget is offset, in part, by $38.5 million in non-tax revenue. The total gross budget is $430 million. 

About $32.6 million will be going into capital spending, including $11.7 million for vehicle replacement and air operations and $8.7 million for technology.

MacSween said that will include new digital evidence management that will better enable police to share evidence with other parts of the justice system, plus allow civilians to submit evidence anonymously.

Newmarket Mayor John Taylor praised the emphasis on technology and how police use it.

“Investment in technology is critical,” Taylor said. “Full support for that going forward because it’s critical to us being a leading police service.” 

Although the budget is not finalized, councillors spoke positively of the police ask.

Vaughan Mayor Steven Del Duca said he is troubled by the crime trends, and they need to ensure the police have the resources needed.

“This is a good spot for us to be in for this year,” Del Duca said of the police budget.

MacSween said the per capita cost of police, $342, is still below that of Peel, Toronto, Ottawa and other major cities. 

York Region Chairman and CEO Wayne Emmerson said police had budget increases ranging between approximately four to five per cent in recent years. 

“We continue to put funding in place for York Regional Police to do their job. We want to provide the tools,” Emmerson said, “so they can keep our communities safe.” 

Council is expected to approve the regional budget later this month.