Policing Ottawa 2017 to cost $1.5M, force estimates

City councillors, the media, and the public had an early glimpse at the budget the Ottawa Police Service is preparing for 2017 during a meeting of the police finance committee, which used to be held behind closed doors.

Police service hoping to recoup costs from paid duty, upper levels of government — not taxes

Ottawa police Chief Charles Bordeleau, seen here with director-general Debra Frazer, anticipates costs of $1.5 million to police events connected to Canada's 150th anniversary celebration. (CBC)

The Ottawa Police Service estimates keeping the capital secure during celebrations for Canada's 150th birthday next year will cost $1.5 million.

Ottawa police hope to recoup those 2017 costs with revenue from hiring out off-duty officers and funding from other levels of government, but not from taxes, said Chief Charles Bordeleau.

Officers earn "paid duty" when they're hired by outside organizations such as festivals or construction companies to oversee traffic or security at public events or construction sites. The organizations also pay the police service for the use of its officers.

2017 will be a different type of pressure.- Chief Charles Bordeleau

"We've got 10 fairly significant events that are being planned. So we're doing the assessment as far as what's the resource requirement, what's the threat assessment around those," he said.

"I don't think you'll see the same level of activity from a paid duty perspective that we're seeing this year, because there's a lot of construction this year, a lot of demands. So, 2017 will be a different type of pressure," said Bordeleau.

According to a financial status report earlier this year, Ottawa police were anticipating more than $1 million in revenue from paid duty in 2016.

Open-door meeting

The estimate for policing 2017 events came at a public session of the Ottawa police finance and audit committee. 

Until recently, police standing committees had been meeting behind closed doors, as CBC reported earlier this year.

Although the draft police budget will not be tabled until Nov. 9, Ottawa police estimate their total spending on operations will be $319 million in 2017, with 81 per cent of that taken going to compensation.
Ottawa city councillors including Keith Egli (standing, left), Stephen Blais (standing, right), Riley Brockington (seated, centre), Diane Deans (seated, right) and Tobi Nussbaum (seated, rear) attended Wednesday's meeting. (CBC)

The police service plans to hire 25 new officers next year at a cost of $2.1 million, which would bring the number of sworn officers to 1,379. The number of civilian positions would remain at 604.

But the force will need to make some choices if it's going to stay within a budget that's limited by a 2 per cent tax increase, or an additional $8.9 million.

Force plans to rein in overtime in 2017

Debra Frazer, director general of the Ottawa Police Service, said police are overspending on overtime in 2016 because of the city's many shootings, as well as the gathering of Hells Angels in Carlsbad Springs over the summer.

The force plans to keep overtime under $3 million and limit new projects in 2017, said Frazer.

At a meeting of Ottawa council meeting earlier Wednesday, Coun. Riley Brockington asked for the chief to appear in the coming weeks to allow councillors to ask questions about police priorities and spending ahead of budget day.

Six councillors took advantage of Wednesday's open committee meeting to ask questions about police spending.

"That's great. That's a good start," said Brockington, as he left the meeting. "I'm certainly very interested in the details of how the police put their budget together."