THUNDER BAY – Statistics Canada has just released its annual compilation of numbers for police personnel and expenditures (Police Resources in Canada, 2010) and reports that in 2010 there were 69,300 police officers in Canada, about a 3 percent increase from the year before. Police strength as measured by the rate of police officers per capita increased two percent to an average of 203 officers for every 100,000 population. As always, the numbers when examined by region and census metropolitan area show some interesting features which are enhanced this year by the inclusion of a Crime Severity Index alongside the police numbers. According to Statistics Canada, the police-reported Crime Severity Index measures changes in the severity of crime from year to year. Each type of offence is assigned a weight derived from actual sentences handed down by courts.
These numbers allow for a ranking of thirty-three Canadian Census Metropolitan areas by the numbers of police officers per capita, the severity of crime (a larger index means more crime) as well as a comparison of whether areas with more crime have more police officers. In other words, is the number of police officers per capita being demand driven?
In terms of police officers per 100,000 population, the numbers for 2010 range from a low of 107 for Kelowna to a high of 202 in Saint John (See Figure 1). At 190 officers per capita, Thunder Bay ranks third highest (just after Regina) while the other northern Ontario metropolis – Greater Sudbury – ranks 19th at 155 officers per capita.
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