Toronto to review recommendations around paid duty police officers

It’s not uncommon to see a police officer on paid duty, patrolling road work or construction around the city. But there has been much debate around the necessity of paid duty work being done by highly-trained police officers.

A report going to executive committee Monday recommends changing provincial legislation under the Highway Traffic Act to allow peace officers or municipal officers to fill the roles of paid duty work.

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According to the report, a police constable’s paid duty rate is $68 per hour and in 2015, there was 381,000 hours of paid duty work done in Toronto totalling over $25.5 million.

READ MORE: New report suggests targeting Ontario laws to cut paid-duty policing costs

Approximately $1.5 million paid duty charges were for city divisions and agencies.

But Mike McCormack, president of the Toronto Police Association, said paid duty officers aren’t a burden to tax payers.

“There is a misnomer that there is a cost or burden to the taxpayer around the paid duties,” he said.

“What you need to understand about the paid duties, they are completely voluntary and they are done by off-duty police offers, so there is virtually zero impact.”

Vancouver has implemented a Traffic Authority program which employs civilians at a starting rate of $22.18 an hour to direct traffic, when needed.

Toronto police services board has been dealing with a ballooning police budget and in November the board approved a $27 million increase to bring the budget over $1 billion for the first time.

READ MORE: Mayor agrees with deputy police chief that changes needed for police force

Yet a report from audit firm KPMG released in December put forward cost-cutting recommendations and since the report’s release, the Toronto Police Service Board appointed a task force to help better identify savings.

The task force’s recommendations will be released at a board meeting in the beginning of June.