Update: see previous posts – April 22, 2014 Paid duty means Toronto cops make out like bandits: Hume, November 13, 2012 Paid Duty: Toronto Police Cash Cow Continues Uninterrupted, September 26, 2011 Toronto Police Paid Duty for Construction Jobs To Discontinue, May 5, 2011 Toronto Police – Highest Paid in Country, September 21, 2010 CRA review Toronto Police’ “Paid Duty” and “Free Parking”
Constables keeping their eyes on pylons at construction sites, or guarding equipment at construction sites receive $68.00 an hour (a minimum of of three hours pay at $204) after the Toronto Police Union raised the rates 4.6% on January 1, 2014. The Toronto Police Union brought in over $26 million through paid duty last year, when the minimum rate was $65 an hour – now it is $68, so the monies brought in this year, will more than likely be in excess of $26 million. $26 million dollars could create a number of full time jobs, for those who have families and need the work.
Three years after Toronto city council passed measures designed to rein in spending on the cops-for-hire program, the number of lucrative police moonlighting assignments has soared.
In 2013, 3,047 off-duty Toronto police officers earned $26.1 million for performing 51,526 jobs ranging from guarding construction sites to providing crowd control at Raptors games.
In 2009, Toronto police assigned 3,700 officers to 40,919 paid-duty requests, for which they received $24.2 million.
The paid-duty system gives Toronto police officers opportunities for secondary income. The service charges city departments, agencies and private companies a minimum of $65 an hour per officer, for no less than a three-hour shift.
For that, an officer may do nothing more than stand around a construction site or a dingy downtown beer store, or keep watch over the Santa Claus Parade.
“The numbers aren’t lying; it’s tending and trending upwards,” said Councillor Michael Thompson, vice-chair of the Toronto Police Services Board.
“We don’t blame the officers. The mechanism allows them to do it and they respond accordingly,” he said.
“It becomes a challenging situation. We’re trying to put a lid on it, and apparently it’s either that the width of the lid is not big enough, or the container you’re trying to cover is just so damn big you can’t cover it.”
In 2011, city auditor general Jeffrey Griffiths released a report recommending sweeping changes to the paid-duty system, many of which city council adopted. They included amending guidelines to determine when a police officer is mandatory and when an ordinary traffic-control person can be used.
The city also revised all city permits and construction contracts to remove, “where possible, the requirement for paid duty police officers,” city spokesperson Wynna Brown said in an email.
All utilities, telecom companies, developers, special event organizers, film industry and other city departments and agencies were advised of the revised guidelines, she said.
So why does police paid-duty continue to grow?
Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash said that’s not something he could answer, since what the service is doing is responding to requests. Nor could he say if the increase in demand relates to the city’s construction boom over the past few years.
“They come to us,” Pugash said Thursday.
“They are not regularly scheduled on-duty police officers. They are there on their own time, and they have been requested by some outside agency.”
While the auditor called on Chief Bill Blair to establish a maximum limit on paid-duty hours an officer may perform each year, the service concluded it could not impose any such restriction, he said.
“However, supervisors have a clearly articulated responsibility to ensure that none of the people they supervise are involved with anything that might detract from their ability to do their job during their regularly scheduled shift,” Pugash said.
In 2009, one officer collected nearly $100,000 from paid-duty earnings, averaging 29 hours a week. Fifteen officers’ paid-duty assignments exceeded 840 hours, the equivalent of six months or more work, the auditor’s report found.