The impacts of amalgamation on police services in the Halifax Regional Municipality

“On 1 April 1996, the Nova Scotia government amalgamated the Town of Bedford, the cities of Dartmouth and Halifax and Halifax County to create the Halifax Regional Municipality. The Halifax amalgamation is one in a series of such mergers that have happened recently in Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic Provinces. This study compares the costs, resources, service levels, crime rates, workloads and citizen perceptions of police services before and after amalgamation. The findings suggest that, overall, amalgamation of police services in the Halifax region is associated with higher costs (in real-dollar terms), lower numbers of sworn officers, lower service levels, no real change in crime rates, and higher workloads for sworn officers.

The findings from three citizen surveys that compare perceptions before and after amalgamation indicate that when the comparisons are focused on persons who actually called the police in 1997 and 1999, nearly thirty-two per cent of those surveyed in 1997 felt that police services had gotten worse since amalgamation, and nearly twenty-five per cent felt the same way in 1999. In 1995, thirty-nine per cent of survey respondents expected services to get worse with amalgamation. Claims about the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of amalgamations have tended to rest on evidence that is generally inadequate to assess the actual consequences of this kind of organizational change. The current study suggests that when predictions are tested, there is a considerable gap between the rhetoric and what actually happens when police departments are amalgamated in an urban setting.”

Published in Canadian Public Administration-administration Publique Du Canada | J. Mcdavid | 2002,,