Skip to content

'I don’t think that our police service and board is getting the due recognition that they deserve'

Police chief and police services board discuss controversial police budget that goes to regional council for approval later today
Village Media file photo

Opposing motions are expected as Waterloo Regional Police Service’s controversial 2022 budget ask will go before regional council Wednesday.

The revised police budget released last week, would increase spending by about $10.4 million and hire 35 new officers.

“Our board has done the hard work with the chief to build a budget that does serve our community including the delivery and progress of our strategic plan,” said Police Services Board member Ian McLean at Wednesday morning's board meeting.

“The budget does recognize the system budget underfunding, and resourcing. This is a legacy of previous boards and chairs. It reflects the growing population, the pressures that we face as a big city including guns, gangs, drugs and so many other issues, and the tremendous rise in call for services.”

McLean said that it’s obvious that when looking at the numbers, that the police service was not adequately resourced in the past.

“In terms of the multiyear plan, we are going to pass a budget today in some form. But is this budget a ‘down payment’ on making sure that we are adequately resourced?”

Waterloo Regional Police Chief Bryan Larkin says that he believes that the current budget is an adequate and effective one considering the current climate Waterloo Region is in.

“We believe we will be able to recruit and attract 35 additional resources. In 2021 we attracted 61 new hires. The talent we are bringing into our organization is unreal. Public safety in our community is so bright and we are very excited for the future,” Larkin said.

“I’m pleased with all of the different pieces that we have been working on. Like any other organization, as a human, as a leader, we all have work to do. I’ve had the privilege to serve this community for seven years.”

Larkin says this is the second time he has made a significant resource ask.

“As I reflect back, I would have taken a different approach. I do feel that I’ve missed the opportunity to support our members in a meaningful way. From a leadership perspective you can get focused on innovation and social innovation and technology. But the heart of what we do is human services.”

Giovinazzo said it is important to make sure that the chief and deputies are on board with the budget.

“Ultimately, we want to make sure that we have given you sufficient tools and resources to adequately and effectively execute our plan,” Giovinazzo said.  

“The strategic plan provides a road map in my mind of how we achieve our vision. That every person in Waterloo Region is safe and feels safe. I believe that this strategic plan addresses every concern that I’ve heard from the community at large, in one shape or form.”

Giovinazzo says that the plan is just one piece of a puzzle where everyone must come together to try to bring well-being and safety.

“I do want to publicly say that I don’t think that our police service and board is getting the due recognition that they deserve, and that bothers me and that personally offends me because we are doing many good things. We are viewed as a progressive police service and an excellent police service” Larkin said.

“So, is it the perfect budget? I’m not sure any budget is ever perfect. It’s like renovating a house, there’s always different add-ons but I’m confident that this investment in 2022 will be a better place for our organization, a better place for our members. It’s a commitment to a long-term strategy.”

Larkin says that he believes adding 35 officers is the proper investment.

“When we look at the last 20 years, in many ways we’ve done a disservice to ourselves by actually not focusing on long-term investment, long-term planning, and tackling some of these tough issues. Clearly, in the last seven years as being chief, I hold responsibility for that. I want to be publicly clear about that. Those are decisions I can ultimately override and change but the budget that we are presenting today, we have looked at the regional landscape to make sure there is money in the system,” Larkin said.  

Larkin said at some point, the Transport Canada Act will require the region to have a police detachment at the airport.

“We start planning for that today, not when you hit a million passengers. And that needs to happen,” he said.

“What is happening now in a lot of different areas, there is a focus on politics. My focus is on public safety, our members and police.” 

Reader Feedback

Barbara Latkowski

About the Author: Barbara Latkowski

Barbara graduated with a Masters degree in Journalism from Western University and has covered politics, arts and entertainment, health, education, sports, courts, social justice, and issues that matter to the community
Read more