London’s top cop says the resolution of a months-long budget dispute with the city will see an increase in foot patrol and a new unit dedicated to human trafficking.
Council endorsed a $2.7-million settlement with the London Police Services Board less than a week before the two sides were scheduled to go before the Ontario Civilian Police Commission.
Police Chief John Pare tells AM980 some of that money will allow them to create a Human Trafficking Unit.
“There’s a couple different positions we’re trying to fill, the first is resources for the Human Trafficking Unit. We do not have full time members associated to this area and it is a huge growing concern,” Pare explains.
“We know on a daily basis we have anywhere between 30 and 200 advertisements in our community. Our officers have been doing it on an as-need basis, we haven’t been very proactive. Part of that, we haven’t been able to partner with our community partners to assist the vulnerable women that are found in these situations and get them out of those situations.”
Pare says police will also be working to beef up foot patrol, especially downtown.
“We also are looking at putting further resources into our foot patrol. The area is growing in terms of where those resources should be deployed and especially with the infill that’s occurring in downtown we need to ensure that we have appropriate resources to address the issues as they come up.”
Gena Brumitt, Property Manager of Market Tower, spoke out in favour of hiring foot patrol officers in the downtown core during budget deliberations.
On Wednesday, she said is glad an agreement has been reached but says more needs to be done.
“Here in London, we have about 156 officers per 100,000 population. An average comparable city would have 166,” she tells AM980.
“That means London is down almost 40 officers overall and that is most noticeable downtown.”
Six officers are now expected to be hired next year, which Brumitt says is a good start.