Waterloo Regional Police asking for $12 million budget increase just days after latest shooting

A Kitchener man is now behind bars in connection to Waterloo Region’s 16th shooting of the year.

It happened on Linden Avenue, in the Victoria Park neighbourhood, on Saturday afternoon.

Dozens of police officers responded after receiving reports of shots fired, some of them in armored vehicles and carrying assault weapons.

“It was pretty traumatic with all those guns around us and everything,” said Rickey LaFleur, who lives in the area.

A 38-year-old man was found with a gunshot wound and taken to hospital.

“I knew something was going down,” said neighbour Claudine Haid. “I just wasn’t aware of what it was and whether it was a shooting or a homicide.”

Police say a 52-year-old Kitchener man was later arrested and charged.

On Sunday, investigators conducted a search warrant in relation to the shooting and seized a semi-automatic firearm and ammunition.

The relationship between the victim and suspect has not been released, but police believe it was a targeted incident.

Speaking to regional council Monday afternoon, Police Chief Bryan Larkin asked for more than $12 million to be added to the police budget for 2022. The total cost would be $197 million.

“We are seeing the demands of organized crime and violent crime that we have never seen before,” he said.

Larkin referenced the shooting and the cost of policing due to a spike in violent crime.

“The reality is when a shooting happens during daylight hours, it requires a significant police response."

Police showed surveillance video of their response to a shooting on Hazelglen Drive back in July, which Larkin says came with a price tag of $31,000.

Larkin also wants to add 35 police officers in 2022, saying the service is receiving a call every two minutes and 19 seconds.

Some in the community, including Reallocate WR, have called on regional council to demand a zero per cent police budget increase.

The group wants to put the $12 million towards a community-led homelessness and housing affordability strategy.

Regional councillor Tom Galloway asked about changing the policing model.

“Marginalized groups that feel they’ve been harmed by the police and people on the mental health file feel the response isn’t right,” he said.

Regional council will approve the final budget on Dec. 15.