WRPS over budget on overtime hours due to need for ‘mass deployment’ of officers

By Justine Fraser

Over the past five years, Waterloo Regional Police Services (WRPS) have hired about 276 new officers, but it’s not enough to keep up with the region’s growing population, according to Police Chief Mark Crowell.   

“When it comes to overtime there is some built-in contingency for regular overtime. There is also extra demands on our service. We have provided some information on a recurring basis to the board about unanticipated public order demonstrations, large-scale deployments,” he said.

WRPS went over budget in overtime hours by over $338,000 in the first quarter of 2024. The director of financing for WRPS said in a board meeting on May 15 that some of that comes from lower staffing levels. They added that there is no limit to overtime hours that officers can input.

Compared to the provincial average, WRPS is below the number of officers needed per every 100,000 people.

“Our recruitment efforts have been significant; it is simply growing with the growing region while a normal organizational churn of retirements and resignations occur.”

Crowell said they are continuing to see a rise in large-scale deployment efforts needed, which is driving up overtime hours.

“You’ve heard obviously of St. Patrick’s Day and others, but we are continuing to see an uprise of requirements for us to be deploying on mass,” he said.

Other jurisdictions have aided WRPS during these mass deployments as well.

WRPS also reported an increase of about 39 per cent in overtime hours compared to this time last year.

Crowell said to keep up with the region’s growing population they will continue to hire more officers to “fulfill recruitment obligations.”

In the first quarter of this year, WRPS reports that salaries and wages of officers is under budget by about $2,572 which they cited as being due to savings in full-time salaries from maternity or paternity leaves as well as “staffing levels being below authorized levels year-to-date.”

The year-to-date overtime hours for WRPS is sitting at 50,074 with 91 per cent of those hours in the Neighbourhood Policing and Investigations division.

“That is not a cost efficient and nor is it a smart way to run our operations using overtime anymore then necessary. Our eyes are on the horizon where we’re at full compliment and our overtime necessities are lessened and with the growing region well continue to make those best efforts,” said Crowell.

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