Council takes aim at cops’ paid duty

Don Peat,City Hall Bureau

First posted: Thursday, May 12, 2011 5:47:43 EDT PM paid duty Toronto Police officers on paid duty get $65 an hour to direct traffic around construction sites and movie shoots.

TORONTO – City councillors on the audit committee voted to curb Toronto Police paid duty costs Thursday.

The move follows a similar vote by the budget committee to start changing some of the city’s rules that mandate paid duty in certain situations such as within 30 metres of an intersection with a traffic signal.

Members of the committee voted to eliminate the 30-metre rule and asked city staff to develop a new policy for traffic control at construction sites.

They also asked for a review of policies around paid duty officers at special events and film locations.

Councillor Pam McConnell originally requested the auditor general to conduct a review when she was on the Toronto Police Services Board.

Paid duty assignments, like those at construction sites, are jobs that “are boring and are not using any of their skills,” McConnell said Thursday.

“We might not need anybody or we could use somebody that has a lot less skill than that and would cost us a lot less money,” she said.

Among auditor general Jeff Griffiths’ findings — including that the city spends approximately $7 million on paid duty in 2009 — was the fact the province spent $3.5 million on Toronto Police paid duty officers the same year.

Along with guarding prisoners, an unknown part of that money went towards paying officers for security at Ontario Disability Support Program offices.

“So the province is using paid duty officers at $65 an hour for security for people who are disabled to come and pick up their cheques?” McConnell asked city staff.

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair appeared before the committee and said he is “in agreement” with the city exploring alternatives that save cash.