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Police find money internally for new positions: Burkart

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
March 14th, 2016

The city’s police force is drawing from within to cover the costs of adding two new positions to its force, says the city’s top cop.

Nelson Police Department chief Paul Burkart said although the decision late last week by the province to recommend one additional police officer and an administrative position be added to the NPD ranks did not exactly provide what the police board had asked for in its 2015 provisional budget — an original total of three positions — there is a some merit in the announcement.

“It does provide us with some much needed resources,” he said.

Since the beginning of the year, the NPD has already taken steps to augment the strength on the street with the placement of a fulltime beat officer, accomplished through revamping the department’s management structure.

“Although this will not be a permanent change, it will allow us to refocus on the street and the beat,” Burkart said.

With the change, the NPD was able to realize some cost savings that will be used to offset some of the costs of the two new positions in 2016 and in future years, he added.

Mayor Deb Kozak said last week there will be no anticipated increase this year to the City of Nelson’s budget — delivered in draft form two weeks ago — in the wake of the announcement by the province Thursday morning.

The report, delivered by the director of Police Services, Clayton Pecknold, to city council and the Nelson Police Department board, is a binding decision, but falls one police officer short of the amount the police board had originally asked for.

However, Pecknold’s decision isn’t the final word on the perceived staffing shortage within the NPD ranks, and the staffing figures could rise further.

There is expected to be an internal review of the NPD’s service delivery model to address “gaps” in the original police services review, conducted last fall, with a multi-year staffing and resource plan arising out of it.

Burkart said the review would look not only at department operations and the present positions in the department, but will look for efficiencies with the city and with the NPD’s community partners, including the RCMP.

“With this information, the board will then formulate a resource and staffing plan for the future,” he said. “The review will ensure that Nelson citizens are continuing to receive the best value for their tax dollars and that the department is running as efficiently as possible.”

Burkart explained that the police board and city council would be sitting down very soon to discuss the next steps in the process.

“These meetings will continue into the future to ensure that all resources and staffing plans are those of the board working with council,” he said.

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