The Abbotsford Police Department will hire five new staff members in 2016 – but none will be regular police officers.
Instead, four will be investigative support officers and one will be an IT helpdesk position.
The new positions will be funded by a 0.87 per cent property tax increase.
Investigative support officers (ISOs) are not full police officers, and their pay grid is still being finalized. The current plan is to pay them 40 to 50 per cent less than a first-class constable, who makes $92,165 per year.
Const. Paul Walker said these new team members will do tasks like neighbourhood inquiries, retrieving video evidence, obtaining and collecting witness statements, and assisting in preliminary investigations.
“Although this type of work is incredibly important and necessary, it comes with lower risks and in many cases does not require a fully trained police officer,” he said. “By having the ISOs perform these duties, it will free up the time of our regular constables to focus on…higher risk tasks.”
The ISOs will be sworn in as special municipal constables, and they won’t have to “go through the exhaustive training and expense associated with a fully sworn police officer,” Walker added.
Another IT (information technology) position was requested because the APD has ramped up its use of technology in recent years.
“We have been straining the capacity of our internal IT staff,” said Walker. He said they’re opting to hire for a help desk position, with less pay and training than a full IT analyst, because it will free up the analysts to respond to more complicated matters.
This is the first batch of expanded hiring for the force since 2012. In 2013, four police positions and one civilian position were lost through attrition.
The tax increase will add $1.59 million to the APD’s yearly operating budget of over $40 million. In addition to the five new positions, the money will cover standard salary increases and increased costs for contracted services.