2023-2026 Police Budget
City Council has approved Calgary’s 2023-2026 Service Plans and Budgets. As part of this process, our Commission worked with the Calgary Police Service to submit a four-year budget for policing.
Alberta’s Police Act requires that our Commission determine how much funding is required to maintain efficient and effective policing, and how that budget should be spent. Final approval of the total police budget must then come from Council.
Policing in Calgary
As the third largest municipal police service in Canada, the Calgary Police Service strives to create a community that is safe, diverse, inclusive, and inspired. Police officers and civilian staff support public safety every hour of every day by responding to emergencies, enforcing laws, investigating crimes and traffic collisions, providing support to victims of crime and trauma, ensuring large events and protests remain peaceful, and promoting safe driving. They also work closely with various partners to prevent crime and help people in crisis due to challenges with homelessness, mental health and addictions.
- Responds to emergency and non-emergency calls
- Investigates crimes to find those responsible, seize dangerous items and recover stolen property
- Proactively patrols and engages the community
- Promotes traffic safety through education, enforcement and collision investigations
- Ensures public safety during protests and events
- Provides criminal history background checks
- Connects victims of crime and trauma to supports
- Delivers crime prevention, education, and early intervention initiatives
The Service also has over 600 partners, including City of Calgary business units (like Calgary Transit and 9-1-1), community organizations (like the Centre for Newcomers and Action Dignity), social service organizations (like the Distress Centre, Luna, and the Youth Advocacy Centre), school boards, the Calgary Airport Authority, government departments (like Alberta Health Services and Public Safety Canada), and other law enforcement agencies.
Measuring police performance
The Service has a number of performance goals to measure how well they are delivering on the service plan, but five have been identified as the key measures:
- Crime Severity Index:
The Crime Severity Index is calculated by Statistics Canada and is a standardized way to compare crime levels between different cities and regions. It measures changes in the amount and severity of crime in the city. The Crime Severity Index in Calgary was 72.3 in 2021, the fourth highest among major Canadian cities but close to average when compared to the entire country. A goal of the next budget cycle is to keep the Crime Severity Index at or below the current five-year average.
- Perception of safety:
Citizen’s perception of safety impacts satisfaction with policing, economic and social activity, and Calgary’s ability to attract new residents and tourists. The perception of safety in The City of Calgary’s Citizen Satisfaction Survey has dropped in recent years and a goal of the next budget cycle is to restore it to previous levels or above.
- Weighted clearance rate:
The weighted clearance rate gives a higher weight to investigations involving serious crimes (homicides, robberies, sexual assaults, etc.). It measures how successful the Calgary Police Service is at conducting investigations by measuring how many come to a successful conclusion. A goal of the next budget cycle is to increase the weighted clearance rate.
- Equitable policing:
Addressing systemic racism, changing how our city responds to vulnerable populations, and integrating equity, diversity and inclusion into policing are all priorities of Calgarians. One key way to measure progress towards these is by asking Calgarians during the Commission’s Citizen Satisfaction Survey if officers respond fairly to all segments of the community. A goal of the next budget cycle is to increase the number of Calgarians who answer positively to 80 per cent.
- Employee Engagement Index:
Employee morale and engagement at the Calgary Police Service impacts the quality of policing that Calgarians receive and hurts the health and wellness of those who serve. The Employee Engagement Index is calculated using the results of an annual employee survey. Through a targeted internal strategy and the easing of staffing shortages, a goal of the next budget cycle is to return engagement to pre-pandemic levels or better.
Reflecting Council’s priorities in policing
The Service and our Commission incorporated Council’s foundations of economic, social and climate resiliency into all aspects of the 2023 – 2026 Service Plan and Budget.
Providing a safe environment for people and property supports business success and investment in our city, a key component of economic resilience. Climate resilience will be supported by improving building efficiency, reducing vehicle idling and replacing gas vehicles with electrified ones. Finally, the most significant foundation that the police contribute to is social resilience. This is done by helping to create a city where everyone feels safe, supported and included.
The Service’s service plan is organized around four pillars that align with Council’s desire to strengthen relationships with Calgarians, deliver the right services, invest in infrastructure and focus on social equity. There is also an added focus of better looking after employees. Additionally, the Service will continuing working closely with partners to support other Council priorities, like downtown revitalization, transit, and hosting, by ensuring that the right resources and approaches are in place to address the crime and disorder that negatively impact these goals.
Properly resourcing the police
Delivering both adequate policing services and the outcomes listed above are not possible without some increase to the police budget. Salaries account for 86 per cent of the police budget, making improvements to how people are deployed the greatest opportunity to find financial efficiencies. The Service has kept growth needs below inflation and population growth by finding efficiencies, but more staff are required to maintain desired service levels as Calgary grows.
However, there has been a strong focus on ensuring Calgary’s financial sustainability during the next budget cycle. The budget increases for the next four years are below the level that would be expected based on projected inflation and population growth. When the cost per capita of policing in Calgary is compared nationally, Calgarians pay less than the national average. The 2023 – 2026 Service Plan and Budget is expected to maintain this relative cost efficiency as Calgary’s cost per capita will drop by five per cent, making the per capita cost in 2026 the same as it was in 2016.
The Service served more Calgarians with fewer staff during the 2019 – 2022 budget cycle. Cost saving measures due to Alberta’s economic downturn resulted in no new positions being added to the Service from 2019 to 2021, while the city population continued to grow and 13 new communities were added to Calgary’s urban footprint. When COVID-19 pandemic health measures started to ease and crime began to return to pre-pandemic levels, the negative impacts of this understaffing on employee wellness, employee retention and citizen satisfaction were evident.
City Council approved additional resources in 2022 to correct the understaffing and the Service increased recruitment efforts to fill all vacant positions as quickly as possible. Looking ahead, the Service anticipates needing a 5.1 per cent increase in full time employees over the next four years to provide the desired service levels, which is still below the anticipated population growth of 7.1 per cent.
Efficiencies that reduced the Service’s growth request
The Service has worked over the last budget cycle to find efficiencies to help fund the growing expectations of the police without requiring more from taxpayers.
Efficiencies already implemented include:
- Reallocating $8M of the annual police budget to the Community Safety Investment Framework
- Reallocating $3.5M and several fulltime staff to support the Service’s anti-racism reforms
- Absorbing $19M in lost fine revenue and COVID-19 costs through cost savings in other areas
- Offsetting rising fuel and insurance costs with savings from delayed filling of vacant positions
- Conducting a functional review that found $1M in efficiencies and repurposed 28 positions to better address community priorities
- Conducting a zero-based budget review through the Service Optimization Review to shape future budget asks
- Right sizing the vehicle fleet to reduce vehicle maintenance and replacement costs
Efficiencies expected in the next budget cycle include:
- Deferring the construction of a new district office to instead right size and stabilize existing infrastructure use before determining where a new building is needed
- Providing flexible work options which are expected to create long-term savings on office space
- Moving to e-ticketing technology is expected to generate $700,000 in savings per year
- Installing advanced vehicle GPS will allow vehicles to automatically be shut off after a set period of idling, saving an estimated $1M in fuel annually
- Converting 20 per cent of the vehicle fleet to hybrids will save approximately $250k in fuel annually
- Expanding online reporting, alternative response and call diversion reduce the demand on police resources and generate savings
- Right sizing, modernizing and improving the efficiency of IT resources are expected to significantly reduce the cost per employee of providing needed workplace technology
- Improving the assessment of frontline staffing requirements through a more precise, data-driven process of assessing how much time officers actually require to complete tasks, how various teams are deployed, what operational conditions exist that impact each team’s resource needs, what scheduling records show the impact to be of training and other absences, etc.
2023-2026 police operating budget
Below are table showing the approved police budget for the next four years, with descriptions of what each category includes. A PDF version of these tables is available in our Additional Background on 2023-2026 Police Budget.
*Numbers are in $000 (i.e. millions)
Our Commission’s operating budget is captured in the overall police budget (as outlined above), but it is managed separately by the Commission’s Executive Director. In 2022, the Commission’s portion of the police budget was $1M and the 2023 – 2026 Service Plan and Budget will increase that to $1.2M annually. The increase is largely due to an added position to support the Commission’s goals of providing more transparency and stronger policy direction.
The Commission budget covers the costs of office space, citizen and employee surveys, external consulting expertise (as needed), commissioner honorariums as set by Council, and the Commission’s staff and operations. Commission employees ensure that commissioners have the independent in-house expertise and support they need to fulfill their legislated duties and provide effective police oversight.
2023-2026 capital budget
There are two ways that capital projects are funded at the Calgary Police Service. A portion of the operating budget is saved each year to self-fund both vehicle replacement and red light camera replacement. While these capital expenditures are self-funded, they still require Council approval.
*Numbers are in $000 (i.e. millions)
Our Commission and the Calgary Police Service presented this budget proposal to City Council with other protective services on Monday, November 21, 2022. The public had an opportunity to present to Council the following day on any aspect of the proposed City of Calgary 2023-2026 Service Plans and Budgets.
Council approved the police budget as proposed by our Commission on Friday, November 25, 2022.
Our Commission’s role
Police in democracies need to be both free from political interference and accountable to the public. To balance these needs, Alberta’s Police Act requires that City Council appoint an independent police commission for the police to report to, instead of reporting directly to Council.
Council still approves the total police budget, but only our Commission can direct how the budget is spent. We also have the responsibility of supervising the police chief, setting police policies, and monitoring the police conduct complaint process.