A small town northwest of Saskatoon is considering hiring its own police officers amid concerns about crime.
Residents will vote this week on whether they want to stop contracting the Warman RCMP detachment and join with the nearby community of Dalmeny, which already has its own police service.
Langham Mayor John Hildebrandt told Saskatchewan Afternoon host David Kirton that the idea came out of conversations he had on doorsteps during the 2016 mayoral campaign.
“I haven’t heard anybody complaining that response times on 911 are an issue. It’s the smaller issues: the vandalism, the graffiti that people are more worried about,” he said.
Dalmeny currently operates a three-officer police service. Hildebrandt said the proposal being put to Langham residents would be to hire three additional officers dedicated to their community.
“There is some crime that does occur in Langham and there is just that feeling that there’s not enough presence, visible presence of the police in town,” he said.
If hired, the three new officers would be based out of Dalmeny, with Hildebrandt saying the potential arrangement would help cut administration costs.
But even still, the proposed policing change wouldn’t come cheap.
Hildebrandt said the town currently pays a total of $85,000 a year for RCMP service, plus a contracted bylaw officer. The move to its own police officers would cost $300,000 a year — leaving ratepayers with about $460 more on their property taxes to make up the difference.
The results of this week’s plebiscite will be non-binding on Langham’s town council. However, Hildebrandt said council would respect voters’ wishes if they showed a strong preference for either hiring the new officers, or sticking with the status quo.