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City will consider more cops

With arrests and worries rising due to Estevan's bustling drug trade, the call for reinforcements has been made.

With arrests and worries rising due to Estevan's bustling drug trade, the call for reinforcements has been made.

Estevan Police Service Chief Del Block has said he would like to see two to three more officers to help battle drug dealers who have targeted the city because of the recent economic boom.

In a recent interview with The Mercury that followed the arrests of seven people and the seizure of over $100,000 worth of drugs and cash, Block said the EPS needs more officers to try and keep pace with the criminal activity in the city. He reiterated those calls in a story on the CBC news Monday that is drawing national attention.

Mayor Gary St. Onge, who is also the chairman of the board of police commisioners, told The Mercury Monday that although a formal request for more officers has not been made, the board is well aware of the issues the EPS faces and will consider adding more personnel.

"I am sure the police board and council will look very seriously at any requests that come from the police chief," St. Onge said following Monday's regular meeting of city council.

With 2010 entering the home stretch, both council and the police board will begin looking at the 2011 budget in the very near future. St. Onge said as much as the City would like to add more officers, there are also financial issues they must consider.

"It's expensive," he said. "A fully trained officer that has some experience, if they're brand new it's different, we're talking $70,000 to $80,000 a year. It adds up pretty fast, but we would certainly look at it if a case can be made that we need more at this time."

Both Block and St. Onge have indicated they will be looking to the provincial government as well. It's expected the province will increase the municipal grants it provides to cities in the 2011 budget, a decision that could add another $500,000 to the City's coffers.

It's also likely the City will ask the province to provide funding for at least one more officer. Currently, the province funds two officers.

"It seems to me the last time (the province announced it would be funding more police officers) we didn't get one. I think they all went to Regina, Prince Albert and Saskatoon. So I think we have a pretty good chance of getting one in the next round."

St. Onge also commended the work being done by the current members of the EPS, touching on the recent arrests as well as the bust in December that netted over 20 arrests.

"We're fortunate that our police are nailing these people once in awhile, it's not easy," he said. "It's hard work to get these people. It takes them forever to get them into court and you have to have so much evidence on them because everything is slanted so much toward the individual in my opinion.

"You also have to have evidence, you just can't walk into a guy's house and speculate. Anybody can turn anybody else in and we have had problems in this police department before where we had to pay for unjust charges."

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