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G8-G20 Security: Police Made Millions On Toronto Summit

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G20 POLICE PROTEST
Riot police surround a large street demonstration on the closing day of the G20 Summit in Toronto June 27, 2010. | AP

(CBC) Police officers from forces outside the Greater Toronto Area brought in to work at last summer's G8 and G20 summits made millions of dollars through lucrative contracts paying them overtime and vacation rates, according to newly released RCMP documents.

CBC/Radio-Canada has obtained copies of RCMP contracts totalling $7 million for the hiring of 657 officers from 17 different local forces from coast to coast. The invoices detail how over the course of a week or two in June 2010, more than half of all the work performed by those officers was paid for at premium rates of 1½ or two times an officer's usual wages.

One of the most costly examples involves Montreal's police force, which submitted an invoice to the RCMP for 278 officers paid at "double time" for all the work they performed around the Toronto and Huntsville summit sites between June 19 and June 29, at a total cost of $3,342,578.

The officers were technically on vacation and so charged the premium rates, according to Mélanie Lajoie, a spokeswoman for Montreal's police force.

The RCMP insists it had no choice but to hire additional officers who were on vacation or time off from their local force for the G8/G20, and to pay them at premium rates according to each force's respective collective agreements.

"Before they offer anybody up to us to help us out, they have to consider what their obligations are to their community where they operate out of before they can even acknowledge our request," RCMP spokesman Insp. Marc Richer told CBC News, explaining why the Mounties' contracts appear so lucrative.

North Bay city police sent eight officers who were paid overtime rates for roughly three-quarters of all their hours, netting each officer an average of $5,742.70 for eight days of work.

The RCMP flew in 16 officers from the Vancouver Police Department for one week, paying them a total of $117,736 — $85,504 of which was overtime — and paying each officer an average $7,358.52 for the week — not including benefits, meals and travel expenses.

John Sewell, a former Toronto mayor and author who has long campaigned for police accountability, said the spending was "irresponsible in the extreme."

"It's absolutely ludicrous that you would ever employ anybody on the basis that two-thirds of their work is going to be overtime, and only one third is going to be regular hours," Sewell told CBC News.

"This is not the way anybody should be spending public money, and I think that the officers in charge of this have an awful lot to explain."

However, many of the senior RCMP officers in charge of procurement and contracts at the time of the G8/G20 are no longer in those roles and the force delegated requests for comment on Friday to the force's spokesman, Richer.

"We are always mindful, of course, that there are costs to this," Richer told CBC News. "We try to mitigate it as best we can. But again, we had some fairly significant challenges in building the security apparatus."

The RCMP contract and invoice documents were obtained under federal access-to-information legislation and reveal only a small portion of the summit's overall $650 million security pricetag. The documents do not detail the contract or pay details for the bulk of the 20,000 police and military personel — most of whom were working directly for Toronto and Peel Region's forces and the Ontario Provincial Police.

"What's amazing about this … it's all in writing," said Sewell.

Other examples of RCMP contract spending detailed in the documents include:

The hiring of eight city police officers in Barrie to work around the clock for 13 days conducting patrols and security checks outside the secret Integrated Security Unit bunker set up in the central Ontario city. It served as the command centre from which police and security officials directed all summit operations. The eight Barrie officers were each paid an average $8,497 at "paid duty rates" of $55 per hour — approximately 1½ times their usual salary — for rotating shifts over the course of 13 days, to watch fences, conduct identification checks and patrol in an area where there was no public traffic or protest activity.

Police commanders at the G20 placed an emergency call for reinforcements to Ottawa police on Saturday, June 26, after an afternoon of vandalism and rioting in downtown Toronto. Ottawa sent 40 officers to Toronto for one day of crowd control on Sunday, June 27. The entire effort cost $114,399 in salaries alone (not including travel expenses, meals, lodging) with each officer netting an average of $2,859.98 for the single day of work, plus the hours of travel to and from Toronto.

One officer from Hamilton was seconded to join the RCMP Joint Intelligence Group from May 22, 2010, (a full month before the G8/G20) until July 1, 2010. For those six weeks, the officer was paid $31,590.27 ($13,257.60 in regular pay, $15,421.67 in overtime, plus $2,911 for meals).

One officer from the small eastern Ontario force of Stirling Rawdon, north of Belleville, billed so much overtime he made $14,000 over 10 days — the equivalent of two months of the officer's usual base salary.

By Dave Seglins, CBC

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