Lethbridge city council received the third phase of a fiscal and operational review ordered in 2018 from consultant KPMG.
Unlike the first two stages of the review — which focused on internal city departments — Phase 3 focused on the operations of a trio of city-funded entities: the Lethbridge Police Service, Lethbridge Public Library and Economic Development Lethbridge.
The review conducted an assessment of the current state of the three organizations and identified opportunities for efficiencies, cost improvements, innovation and reinvestment.
KPMG recommended a number of short-term and medium-term — described as 18 months to three-year changes — options for each of the three.
LPS and Lethbridge Police Commission is in the midst of reviewing its budget after city council made a $1-million cut to LPS funding official in December.
A summary of opportunities identified by KPMG included citywide collaboration to address Lethbridge’s opioid crisis, intelligence-led policing using data-analytics, increased use of civilians — for example, community peace officers — on the force and staggering shifts for greater coverage and responsiveness during peak times.
In reference to the city’s opioid crisis, KPMG noted that it is a “citywide issue, not a policing issue.”
In a statement from the city, Police Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh said: “The drug crisis and the negative spin-offs of that have put significant pressure on LPS. We have to be consistently looking for ways to be more efficient and effective to meet these increasing demands.”
KPMG’s findings are on the agenda for Wednesday’s Lethbridge Police Commission meeting.
“It’s very timely to have those discussions,” said Mayor Chris Spearman.
“I don’t think we’re going to solve anything in one meeting. I think we’re talking about maybe changing the relationship, but we also have to be mindful of legal aspects when it comes to the police. The Police Act, we have to continue to comply with that. We can’t direct the police. There are reasons why there are police commissions.”
Spearman said he was happy to see the results of the review of the library and Economic Development Lethbridge.
“I thought the library scored really well, in terms of the services they provide to the public,” Spearman said. “Sometimes it’s hard to put a dollar value on that.”
Council received the Phase 3 report as information and can use the recommendations as they see fit moving forward.