Overhaul of police paid-duty rules proposed

Toronto could save $2 million if it changes its policies around when police officers are needed for off-duty work such as standing guard at construction sites, says the city's auditor general.

Toronto could save $2 million if it changes its policies around when police officers are needed for off-duty work such as standing guard at special events or construction sites, says the city's auditor general.

Officers are paid $65 an hour for "paid-duty" work such as directing traffic at some busy construction sites, a rate about double their normal pay rate.

Auditor General Jeffrey Griffiths said it is important work, but said when the construction site isn't at a busy location, paying those officers is a waste of money.

"You don't need to pay an officer $65 an hour to sit around at an intersection where there's little activity," he said Thursday at a meeting of the Toronto Police Services Board.

"Is it reasonable for locations in north Etobicoke or where there is not much traffic?" he said after presenting a report on the paid-duty issue.

Griffiths estimated the city paid Toronto police officers $7.8 million in paid-duty work in 2009.

He said Toronto police are doing much more paid duty work than forces in other Canadian cities.

One of the main reasons is a bylaw that stipulates that any construction within 30 metres of traffic lights requires a supervising officer.

Griffiths has asked the city's transportation department to review its requirements for paid duty officers — particularly that bylaw — which he said could save the city $2 million.

Griffiths also presented a list of 10 recommendations to the Toronto Police Services, including lowering the $65 hourly rate and capping the number of paid off-duty hours police officers can work.