Photo radar file photo.
Gavin Young / Calgary Herald
A group of Calgary councillors want to investigate the feasibility of using the city’s corps of bylaw and transit officers to bolster police traffic enforcement on residential streets.Coun. Shane Keating, one of the four councillors sponsoring the motion, said the plan could reduce costs for the city, allow police resources to be better used and ensure a dedicated service for communities, especially if speed limits are reduced as a result of the residential speed limits review and in light of recent budget cuts, which include a $7 million reduction for police.He said a similar proposal had previously come before council, but was ultimately abandoned due to safety concerns for city peace officers if or when they pulled someone over. However, Keating noted the current proposal, slated to come before council this week, would consider all options, such as operating photo radar, to avoid those potential dangers.“The key is to set up a civilian force that doesn’t put them in harm’s way, can reduce costs and you can have a dedicated service, because with the sworn individuals, at this point, they could be doing residential traffic enforcement but if there’s is a higher priority call they leave,” Keating said.“I want the information back and I want to make sure we work hand in hand with (police). But if it gives us a better, dedicated service within the residential areas and we can address the security issues, then yes (I’ll support it).”Coun. Ward Sutherland, who sits on the civilian-led Calgary police commission providing oversight for the force, said it’s an important topic to review but is a “dead issue” when it comes to allowing peace or transit officers the option of pulling over speeding vehicles.“The opportunity, unfortunately nowadays, for a weapon to be in the vehicle is significantly higher and the training and liability is greater,” he said, adding other options like operating radar remains a possibility.He said Calgary police would likely take their own budget cuts and efficiencies into consideration when looking at the proposal.The inquiry would also explore how this method has played out in other jurisdictions.In September 2018, the former police chief Roger Chaffin said reduced speed limits in residential areas, if approved by council, would require additional efforts by the service. Keating said using civilian efforts would lessen this burden.That same month, city council voted to lower the default speed limit on residential streets and some collector roads. However, it was not implemented immediately to determine whether it should be lowered to 30 km/h or 40 km/h. A final decision is expected this year.If the motion is given the green light on Monday, a report would aim to be completed by the first quarter of 2020 and subsequently presented to the Calgary police and the police firstname.lastname@example.org