POLITICS

'Sunshine List' For Toronto Police Spurs Calls For Review

03/16/2015 01:40 EDT | Updated 05/16/2015 05:59 EDT
TORONTO - Toronto's outgoing police chief has been asked to review a program that allows off-duty officers to take on additional security-type assignments after the force's annual "sunshine list" showed more than half of its officers made over $100,000 last year.

The Toronto Police Services Board said it also wants Chief Bill Blair to explain why a "number" of police officers earned more than 50 per cent of their base salary in overtime.

The sunshine list, which details the earnings of police and civilian employees who made more than $100,000 in 2014, was released on Monday.

Last year, 4,125 employees made more than $100,000, which includes 1,940 whose base salary is less than that threshold, but make the list with the addition of paid duty, overtime and premium pay.

If it wasn't for paid duty, 544 fewer officers would have made the list, Blair writes in his report on salaries.

The chief tops the list with a salary of $349,259.68, with the second highest — a constable — trailing behind at $244,095.67. At the bottom is a senior communications technician who crossed the $100,000 threshold by only $48.27.

Constables make up the bulk of the list, with 1,678 of them meeting the criteria. Plainclothes constables were also well represented at 876.

It's the first time that earnings officers receive for off-duty work have been included in their salaries.

The board notes that the majority of paid duty assignments are paid for by the private sector, but critics claim the costs of any additional public sector assignments are being passed along to taxpayers.

Officers earned a total of $27.1 million last year through paid duty assignments, the report reads. Officers performing paid duty work earned an average of $8,909 each, the document shows.

The hourly rate for paid duty ranges between $68 and $85, depending on the rank of the officer, with a minimum of three hours per assignment, according to the police website.

The president of the Toronto police union said paid duty is "a red herring" and shouldn't be included in the list.

"The paid duty issue, that's off-service, doing it completely voluntarily, off-duty, in their own time, and the bulk — over 80 per cent — of paid duties are paid by private companies," Mike McCormack said.

He also said that officers who wish to take on paid duty assignments have to abide by a strict system that includes a cap on total daily hours worked.

The board said it has asked Blair to provide more information on the paid duty program and expects the chief to report back in May, after he has left the position.

Some critics said the sunshine list shows there needs to be a review of police salaries overall, not just the paid duty system.

"It's troubling that we're paying enormous salaries for law enforcement when crime is steadily declining," said Christine Van Geyn, Ontario director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

"Municipalities are under a tremendous burden when it comes to police spending, and it's unsustainable," she said.

The police union is currently in contract negotiations.

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