© File photo
Justice Minister Janice Sherry
SUMMERSIDE - Island law enforcement agencies have until Monday, to come up with a proposal that will see the Criminal Intelligence Service of Prince Edward Island (CISPEI) continue as a tool to combat crime.
“The important piece is, I, as the minister of justice, do not negotiate with the municipalities,” Justice Minister Janice Sherry said. “My part is to deal with the policing services in Prince Edward Island.”
She said when the funding first came down from the federal government the policing services agency felt that the best use of those dollars for Prince Edward Island and public safety was to have a criminal intelligence service.
“The incentive was a boots on the street sort of campaign, to get more people combating crime on the street but it took on a different look in different provinces,” the minister said.
Sherry said the province received those dollars from the federal government for five years and were then notified the funding was over.
CISPEI was established in August of 2006 with the grant from the federal government. The bureau is integrated with the RCMP’s L Division Criminal Analysis Section and has five member agencies: RCMP L Division, and the police departments of Summerside, Charlottetown, Kensington and now closed Borden-Carleton.
Funding for the program ended on March 31, 2013 and the province has since picked up the tab for the $451,610 service. That funding ceases on March 31, 2014 and the province wants its contribution lessened.
Sherry said she has advised law enforcement groups to come with a plan that would keep the program going.
“We called a meeting and we had very open and candid discussions with the chiefs of police and those responsible for policing in the province,” she said. “Policing services identified that this CIS project was extremely vital to public safety and they did not want to see it end.”
Sherry said once the province agreed to fund the program for one more year she wanted the policing agency to devise a proposal to address the future requirements for criminal intelligence in the province.
“I said I want you to come to an agreement for a proportional contribution of resources which could either be in dollars or in-kind services and I put a deadline on it,” she said.
“I have not officially received that document.”
A proposal by the executive committee of the CISPEI suggests the municipalities of Summerside, Charlottetown, Kensington, Stratford and Cornwall pick up roughly half of the cost. Each municipal share would be based on population numbers.
Under the proposal, Summerside would contribute $49,610 annually to the program. Charlottetown would pay $112,750, Kensington, $4,510, Stratford, $27,060 and Cornwall $18,040. The province would make up the difference with an annual contribution of $243,540.
Summerside city council was unanimous in its opinion that this is another situation where the province is trying to download the costs of services and programs to the municipalities.
Sherry said the issue isn’t just about money.
“It was about dollars or in-kind services,” she said.
The in kind services could be supplying the program with a police officer, a communications person or vehicles and equipment.
“We’re looking at a shortfall and we’re saying how can we fill that?” Sherry said. “I have no idea. I’m waiting for what they’re proposing back to us.”
Sherry gave no indication that the province would fund the program if an acceptable proposal is not reached.
“I think that’s a speculative question,” the minister said. “That would make it sound like I’ve got my mind made up now, which I don’t. I recognize the pressures that the police services agencies have on Prince Edward Island. I recognize in the big picture that the demands are increasing and the (money) pots are decreasing – it’s not over and I would be speculating until I see what that official plan looks like.”
Sherry also wouldn’t say if the Oct. 7 deadline could be extended if a proposal is not forthcoming.
“We’re not there yet,” she said. “We’re anticipating that we’re going to get that document before Oct. 7 and we’ll go from there.”
New Brunswick and Nova Scotia fund their program fully but Sherry said they couldn’t be compared with P.E.I.
She said those provinces have provincial policing budgets and use dollars in this account to keep the program afloat. On P.E.I. funding is based on a grant program through the finance minister’s office.