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OPP lose track of firearms, drugs, cash: Auditor

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BY: By Christina Blizzard ,QMI Agency
Source: Toronto

Ontario Canada - So, who's policing the police?

That's the big question after a scathing auditor's report slammed sloppy accounting at the OPP.

The report found despite soaring salaries, so-called signing bonuses and massive amounts of overtime, the OPP was having difficulty keeping track of guns and cash seized for investigations.

One detachment couldn't show an inventory listing in the electronic records management system (RMS) for cash, drugs and firearms.

"At two other detachments, the physical count of seized firearms did not match the RMS inventory listing; in one of the cases, the vault contained five fewer seized firearms than the RMS listing," auditor-general Jim McCarter noted in his report.

Oh, come on. How does that happen?

How can a police detachment lose five guns?

They were no better with cash.

At one detahment, $7,500 was transferred to another OPP investigations bureau, "without proper signatures, and an exhibit of $1,700 in seized cash could not be located in the vault."

The auditor also noted that cops' handguns weren't always securely stored in lockers that did not have the required locking cable.

It's not that the OPP isn't well paid or without perks.

Overtime costs have increased 60% since 2005 - adding $53 million to provincial policing costs.

At $66.45 an hour, The OPP ranked third in the country on salaries, benefits and pensions as of last March.

Only Toronto police ($70.90 an hour) and Vancouver cops ($70.52) were higher paid.

The auditor expects the OPP to skyrocket to first place, given a government announcement that they'd get "the highest paid first-class constable base rate," in the province.

"An officer's annual salary may well increase by at least 8.5% effective Jan. 1, 2014," he said.

Not just that, cops are paid a retention bonus - designed to keep them on the force - even though cops weren't actually quitting in significant numbers.

Cops with more than 23 years of service get 9% of salary, to a maximum of $7,500.

All the same, McCarter noted only 43 officers left the force in 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.

And we wonder why taxes are so high? Muncipalities that pay for OPP policing are scrambling.

Is it any wonder RIDE programs and speed traps are all over the place?

Authorities would have you believe it's all about road safety - when really it's all about paying pay, pension and perks for cops.

McCarter also notes the games some detachments play with staffing.

There's a requirement that there be two cops in a cruiser in for eight-hours in the overnight shift - but that's routinely stretched to a 12-hour shift, adding to staffing costs.

All this at a time when crime is going down.

Take a look at the numbers is the prosecution service.

The number of Crown attorneys and the staffing costs for the criminal law division have more than doubled since the last audit in 1993 - without much value for money.

StatsCan reports this province has the highest rate of adult criminal charges withdrawn or stayed in the country.

Toronto dealt with the highest number of cases - but at the highest cost per charge - $437. compared to the regional average of $268.

So do you feel any safer?

You should - because you're paying through the nose for it.


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Posted on 12/12/2012 4:29 PM | CGB

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