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Sault police looking to hire more officers downtown

The Sault Ste. Marie Police Service has tabled a request to significantly increase its budget as it looks to target crimes in the city's downtown area.

A series of violent incidents has led the Sault police to increase its efforts in the downtown – but those efforts come with a hefty price tag.

Next year's proposed policing budget comes in just under $39 million – or with an increase of 13.5 per cent – it includes funding to add a new division specifically for the downtown area; something police leadership said is needed.

"The presence of officers in static-type patrols will deter crime,” said police chief Hugh Stevenson.

“It'll raise the perception of public safety, and it'll take that area back for us."

John Bruno is the appointed chair of the Sault Ste. Marie Police Services Board. He told CTV News that he knows the police budget has “ballooned a little bit.”

“But I think our public has told us that they want to feel safe in our city,” said Bruno.

“We all want to feel safe in our city."

Since 2020 the service has operated dynamic patrols in the downtown, where officers are paid overtime to keep a presence in the area.

"You can't run a police service on overtime,” said Stevenson.

“You can't run a business on overtime, because it’s financially unreasonable to do that over time."

If approved, the budget would see 17 officers added over 3 years for the downtown division – the largest increase to the police service's staffing complement since 1998.

“When I go to council I'll be very clear, this is an adequacy and effectiveness issue,” said the chief.

“We have to police this community, it’s in the act. My job is to tell you what I need to do that."

Also included in the proposed budget is the purchase of body-worn cameras for all officers over the next 10 years, with officials hoping to begin implementing the use of them by next summer.

The service is also looking to hire four more dispatch operators. Top Stories

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