Straight Talk
CHRISTINA BLIZZARD - Who's policing the cops?

Credits: QMI AGENCY

CHRISTINA BLIZZARD | QMI AGENCY

TORONTO -- So, guns, drugs and cash go missing.

Where did the heist happen?

Not where you think.

It wasn't some drug deal gone bad at Jane and Finch in Toronto.

No, it was at the cop shop.

Yup, according to the annual report by provincial auditor general Jim McCarter released Wednesday, the OPP are not doing a good job of tracking evidence they seize.

This is not to suggest in any way that the auditor general found any evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

But five firearms went missing from one detachment. So where are they?

Did they go on to be used in crimes?

Several transfers of seized cash were made from detachments without the recipients acknowledging receipt.

At one detachment, $7,500 was transferred to another OPP investigation bureau, "without proper signatures," according to the auditor.

And an exhibit of $1,700 in seized cash "could not be located in the vault."

Hello?

This is money in the safe-keeping of police.

If we can't trust them to ensure it's safe, who can we trust?

It's not as if they're underpaid, either.

Since 2005, overtime costs have soared 60%.

According to an RCMP survey, the OPP ranked third for pay among police forces in Canada -- at $66.45 an hour.
Only Toronto cops ($70.90 an hour) and Vancouver police ($70.42 an hour) are paid higher.

The RCMP are paid $65.72 an hour and Surete du Quebec get $57.84.

"It's almost like a piggy back," McCarter told reporters.
"As soon as someone gets a pay increase, the unions all come forward and say, 'We should be paid at that level'."

OPP cops got average annual salary increases of 2.9% for 2005-2010 and a whopping 5% hike in 2011.

Who else got that kind of raise last year? Teachers, perhaps?

While they'll get no increases this year and next, the province announced that OPP officers would receive the "highest paid first-class constable base rate" in the province -- so average salaries "may well increase by at least 8.5%, effective January 1, 2014," according to McCarter's report.

"We found the same trend in the major police forces across Canada," McCarter said.

"Notwithstanding that crime rates are down, severity of crimes are down, motor vehicle accidents are down, everybody's expenditures are going up more than the rate of inflation."

On top of that, cops are paid a retention bonus -- designed to keep them on the force -- even though cops weren't actually quitting in droves in the first place.
Cops with more than 23 years of service get 9% of salary, to a maximum of $7,500 as a signing bonus.

McCarter pointed out only 43 officers left the force before the bonus was introduced in 2002. And in 2011, only 25 cops quit.

So the retention bonus solved a problem that didn't exist in the first place.

Not only that, their staffing models mean we're paying more for overtime. Instead of having two cops in a cruiser for an eight-hour overnight shift, at some detachments that's stretched to a 12-hour shift.

We all want our cops to be safe on those lonely graveyard shifts -- but 12 hours? C'mon.

Look, I'm not one to constantly criticize cops. They do a tough job and deserve to be well paid.

But you have to wonder why cops in small-town Ontario is paid the same as a cop out working the meaner streets of Toronto.

Meanwhile, I'm starting to think all those ticket blitzes and RIDE programs are more about raising money to pay for cops than they are about road safety.

The provincial government has given cops sweeping powers to impound cars. They've lowered the blood-alcohol level for drunk driving charges.

The big winners are the insurance companies, who get to charge more when drivers are charged.

And provincial coffers get a boost to help pay for -- you got it -- more cops.

That just leaves one big question.

Who's policing the cops?


 

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