More gravy found! This time, it’s $2 million per year in the Toronto Police payroll

More gravy found! This time, it’s $2 million per year in the Toronto Police payroll

Somehow, we suspect this won’t set quite as many heads rolling as the ongoing Toronto Community Housing fiasco: the Toronto Star is reporting that Toronto’s auditor general has another large, multimillion-dollar agency in his sights for lax policies that are wasting millions of taxpayers’ dollars. In this case, it’s the Toronto Police. Cue Rob Ford’s gravy hate.

According to the Star:

Unnecessarily strict rules for employing paid duty police officers are costing Toronto taxpayers as much as $2 million each year, a city audit has found …

“When construction takes place close to a signalized intersection, there are certainly situations where a paid duty officer would be needed to direct traffic,” the report says. “However, there are also situations where the use of warning signs, barriers and other devices … would be sufficient.”

The auditor’s findings mirror those of a December 2009 Star investigation that found private companies, taxpayers and community groups were forced to waste millions of dollars hiring paid duty officers for jobs that could be done by crossing guards or even pylons.

The levels of waste are a bit smaller than what the auditor found going down the drain at TCHC, but it’s still a lot of taxpayer money being spent on using police as glorified traffic cones. The auditor general found lax policies, questionable spending and at least one case of “paid duty” work interfering with an officer’s court appearance (priorities, much?).

Here’s the thing: we suspect that while it pays well, “paid duty” work might not actually be that fun for officers—especially when they’re standing in the cold, waving traffic by. This sounds like the kind of thing that the city and police ought to be able to hash out a solution to with better policies and lower wages—perhaps wages that are more in line with other G.T.A. municipalities.

That’s right, sometimes constructive engagement might be better than head-bashing. Not that there’s a wider lesson here at all.

• Paid duty policing costs taxpayers millions: audit report [Toronto Star]