Archive for the ‘Police’ Category

Police Face Finding More Savings For 2% Promise

- September 22nd, 2014

Mayor Jim Watson’s 2% tax cap promise could throw a curveball at the Ottawa Police Service, which has been planning for a 2.5% hike each year until at least 2017.

From the 2014 police budget:

“We always present a four-year outlook and that four-year outlook projected a 2.5% increase in our police budget to deal with the pressures that we have, but at the same time delivering on a $2.5-million efficiency as well,” Chief Charles Bordeleau told reporters today.

Bordeleau didn’t say that the police force will try to get the rate hike down to 2%. The service continues to find savings, Bordeleau said, but we all know that if Watson wins the election, police will have to reassess their spending plans.

This all might sound familiar.

Police, under former chief Vern White, had to rejig their budget after Watson won the 2010 election with a 2.5% promise.

So how would police do it this time?

For one, looking at more uniform positions that can be held by civilians.

And the force is trying out new ways to handle recurring calls, such as crashes. Now police have collision reporting centres.

There’s also an interesting matter of the police force’s hiring plans starting in 2015. An extra 23 officers were to join the service each year until at least 2017, but Bordeleau said police brass are taking a look at their forecasts to see if it’s necessary. He didn’t draw a line between the Watson 2% promise and the hiring analysis, but holding off on new cops would certainly provide the necessary budget relief.

There are some statistics and reports pulling the force in different directions. A Fraser Institute study released today put Ottawa-Gatineau police in the “understaffed” category. But then we have evidence that Ottawa police’s emergency calls are decreasing.

On top of all this, arbitration awards could throw financial plans off track.

Watson would have a good idea what the police’s requirements are as mayor and a member of the police services board.

I’m not predicting any drama with the 2015 police budget in December if Watson wins re-election. Police have shown they can find savings and I don’t think Bordeleau is the kind of chief who wants to poke City Hall over money.

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Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling and at ottawasun.com.

More Heat On Rising Police Costs

- April 21st, 2014

The Association of Municipalities of Ontario will try tackling the escalating cost of police services.

Ottawa police recently stopped overnight hours for its desk at headquarters on Elgin St.

AMO announced earlier this month it’s striking a task force on “police modernization” to inform a provincial study by a future of policing advisory committee.

The committee’s work seems to involve a wide examination of police services in Ontario, but AMO’s interest, no doubt, is keeping costs down.

This will resonate in Ottawa where police board chairman Eli El-Chantiry and Mayor Jim Watson have called for changes to the province’s arbitration system.

Salaries are the biggest cost driver, but there are issues beyond arbitrated contracts fuelling increased police costs.

There have been some interesting developments recently in Ottawa with the police force finding ways to save money.

Crime reporter Danielle Bell wrote about the future of community police centres and managers debating if the offices are still worth the resources.

Starting last Tuesday the police force cut back on the hours of its front desk at Elgin St. headquarters. Instead of being available 24/7, the desk now opens at 7 a.m. and closes at 9 p.m. each day.

There has also been some discussion about how police deploy resources to manage traffic as part of the force’s ongoing service review.

We might learn more about big changes in the police force as the year goes on. The service review is expected to bring efficiencies starting in 2015. The force needs to find $1 million in savings annually between 2015 and 2017 to meet its financial forecasts. Still, the police budget is projected to increase by $10 million in 2015, taking into account a 2.5% tax hike.

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Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling and at ottawasun.com.

Police Salary Increases In Southern Ontario Arbitration

- March 14th, 2013

Another Ontario police force has an arbitrated settlement and it’s worth noting since the Ottawa Police Services Board and the Ottawa Police Association are waiting for a decision on their own contract.

An arbitrator has awarded Waterloo Regional police officers increases of 2.7% in each of 2012 and 2013 and 2.95% in 2014, according to The Record.

Those percentage increases are what police managers and politicians keep a close eye on across the province.

Ottawa is trying to keep its police salary increases to 2.5% annually. Officials on the management side are anxious to get the decision since it was expected a couple of weeks ago. I recently tried reaching the arbitrator to find out what’s taking so long but didn’t receive a response to a voice message or e-mail.

Senior officers in Ottawa negotiated a new contract with the police board. In that deal, it appears the board was successful front-loading the increases (four-year deal with annual increases of 3% in first two years and 2% in last two years) so the next negotiations begin where the final year leaves off at 2%.

Harder Fired Up Over Copper Thefts

- December 18th, 2012

Barrhaven Coun. Jan Harder was fired up today about a recent copper theft at a park in her ward.

She said the city lost about $70,000 in copper wiring between thefts at Lytle Park and a snow dump on Strandherd Dr.

Harder said the wiring at the park was torn up from under the lights.

I got the impression she wants police talking more about the theft and making sure residents are vigilant. She’s a member of the police services board, so I assume her advice holds a bit of weight around the cop shop’s executive offices.

If people see shady behaviour, “make the call,” Harder said.

Of course, this kind of crime isn’t unique around the national capital.

If you know something about the Barrhaven thefts, call 613-236-1222, ext. 7300.

City Going After Province On Arbitration Reform

- September 20th, 2012

The city is really turning the screws on the province when it comes to arbitration reform.

West Carleton-March Coun. Eli El-Chantiry, the head of the police board, is virtually screaming for changes as he sees police salary increases rise across the province. It only takes one or two police services to give substantial salary increases to give arbitrators a reason to match.

The province’s arbitration system was one of the key points during the Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference in Ottawa last month. El-Chantiry and Knoxdale-Merivale Coun. Keith Egli (a lawyer by trade who specializes in labour and mediation) met with Labour Minister Linda Jeffrey.

And now, Mayor Jim Watson has followed up with a letter to Jeffrey calling for “structural changes” to the arbitration system for emergency services.

Then there’s this recommendation to the police board to write to Premier Dalton McGuinty, Community Safety Minister Madeleine Meilleur, PC Leader Tim Hudak and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath to essentially keep the OPP contract costs down. If the OPP sign a big collective agreement, it would trickle down to Ontario municipalities.

It seems the province is getting closer to make some kind of change to the arbitration system. The Tories have a bill and the Liberals will have their own proposal. They’re both on the same page with wanting to do something, but we’re left to see if they can find common ground.

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Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling and at ottawasun.com