Paid duty police work: Does it cost city too much?

Toronto police officers collected $26 million for paid duty work last year, an amount Coun. Michael Thompson says raises concerns for the city.

Coun. Michael Thompson says paid-duty work isn't the best use of police time

A Toronto police officer, left, works a paid duty assignment at a construction site on Spadina Avenue. (CBC)

Are Toronto police officers being paid too much for paid duty work?

It's an issue Coun. Michael Thompson, vice-chair of the Toronto Police Services Board, raised Tuesday in an interview with Matt Galloway on CBC Radio's Metro Morning.

Paid duty is work officers perform outside their regular shifts. Typical assignments include standing guard at construction sites and working as security at public and private events.

Officers are paid an hourly rate of at least $66 for the work. A report in the Toronto Star says officers collected $26 million last year for paid duty work.

"It has a long history and unfortunately it continues to be problematic for not only the service but for our citizens as well," said Thompson.

Problematic because of the cost to the city and private businesses but Thompson also said paid duty raises a "public relations problem" for the city. In an era of belt-tightening, many are angered to see salaried police officers pull in extra money for paid duty work.

"The money being paid to officers who are well paid to begin with … it does have an impact and I don't think it's the best use of policing time," said Thompson.

The city has made moves to curtail paid duty costs. Thompson said many of those measures have trimmed the amount the city pays, though the demand for paid duty work to private companies remains high.

"There are areas where paid duty is required, but the magnitude of it is a real problem," said Thompson.

In addition to the cost, Thompson said he's worried officers who use their time off to take paid duty shifts won't be well rested for their regular policing duties.

"Their time off is to recover from the work that they've done in the days prior, to allow them to be fit for work when they return to their duties. Does it have an impact? It's something we need to have a look at."


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