Victoria police are seeing a steady decrease in costs when it comes to the amount of overtime officers are wracking up in court.
According to the 2015 annual police report, $117,510 was spent on court overtime in 2013, followed by $105,750 in 2014. Last year, the department spent $67,423.
The reason for the decrease, said Acting Chief Const. Del Manak, is due to better scheduling. Police have been working closely with the Crown to put processes in place for the amount of officers needed in court. Where possible, the court dates are also set when a member is on duty.
“In the past, sometimes you would have an assault or a serious stabbing and a lot of times all the officers were subpoenaed so they all have to go to court. Not everybody plays the same role in every single case,” said Manak. “Now there’s a bit more due diligence on the Crown’s part to look (and say) this officer really didn’t have a crucial role in this so I’m not going to call them in.”
Overtime in general is something police have been keeping a close eye on in recent years and a number of measures have been implemented in order to keep it under control. Between 2010 and 2014, police averaged $2.2 million a year in overtime. The budget request for 2016 is $1.9 million — a reduction of 22 per cent.
Manak is happy the numbers are trending in the right direction, but he’s left wondering what else the department can do to keep overtime down.
“I think it’s important that we apply fiscal scrutiny and are always looking at all line items of our budget,” said Manak, noting the amount of overtime officers put in during a work week depends on what’s happening on the street and the unit they work in. “It’s a significant driver of costs and we are doing our best to manage.”
The annual report highlights a number of successes and challenges police experienced in 2015. Last year, 11 police officers (five men and four women) were hired, along with nine auxiliary jail guards and eight civilians. The department received 290 resumes — the highest amount since 2012 when 337 people submitted resumes.
For the 10th year in a row, the department managed to stay within the annual budget of $48.8 million with a surplus of $500,000. The bulk of the budget goes to personnel costs at $41.9 million. Operating expenditures ate up $6.2 million of and capital funding was pegged at $1 million. Revenue amounted to $276,000.
This year, police have asked for a budget of $50.6 million. Victoria covers 85 per cent of the cost and Esquimalt picks up 14 per cent. The department has 344 full-time employees — 243 of whom are officers.