Kitchener-Waterloo

COVID-19 costing police nearly $1M but chief doesn't expect taxpayers to foot the bill

The COVID-19 pandemic has cost police nearly $1 million so far, according to a Waterloo regional police services board report.

Savings from cancelled travel, training have balanced cost of PPE and staffing, police say

Waterloo Regional Police Service Chief Bryan Larkin says the cost of personal protective equipment and staffing changes has been balanced by putting a hold on travel, training and non-essential hiring. (Teghan Beaudette/CBC)

The COVID-19 pandemic has cost police nearly $1 million so far, according to a Waterloo regional police services board report.

Most of the cost is related to indirect staffing costs, such as staffing a new emergency operations centre and paying for police employees in self-isolation.

Direct costs such as overtime and a spike in demand for personal protective equipment have also put a dent in the police budget, the report said.

"Our burn rates or our usage rates of PPE has obviously much increased, particularly around nitrile gloves," chief of police Bryan Larkin told reporters Wednesday.

Larkin said the service has also given each front line officer a pair of safety glasses or goggles. Previously officers shared these items and cleaned them after use, which Larkin said is no longer safe.

"It was an unexpected cost," he said.

Still, Larkin said the pandemic has led to savings in other areas.

On average, calls to police have been down about eight per cent since the pandemic began, he said.

The service has also put a hold on certain long-term capital projects, such as the replacement of the service's voice radio system.

Non-critical recruitment has been frozen. So has most travel and training, Larkin said.

"We don't anticipate having to go to the board requesting more monies," he said.

Ball caps for cops

Officers with the Waterloo Regional Police Service will soon be spotted wearing these ball caps instead of traditional forage caps. (Submitted by Waterloo Regional Police Service)

Officers will soon be spotted out in the community wearing ball caps, the police service announced Wednesday.

The caps are intended to be more modern and more functional, police said in a report.

And while traditional forage caps cost about $150 a pop, ball caps are "significantly cheaper," Larkin said.

The total cost of buying ball caps for every service officer is $19,834.33, he said.

Officers will continue to wear traditional forage caps during ceremonial occasions and events, police said.