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A peek at Vancouver police salaries

May 22nd, 2009 · 14 Comments

Vancouver police have posted a list of police salaries — without names — on their freedom-of-information website here. Sad, really, that they only release them through an FOI.

That’s a recent development, if you’ll recall. Until four years ago, all police salaries over $75,000 were routinely listed in the city’s schedule of payments, along with the names, along with the rest of the city employees. Then West Vancouver police mounted a legal challenge to having their salaries posted along with other city information. Their argument: They aren’t really employees of the city, they’re employees of the police board. Also, there’s a security issue. There, they argued, they aren’t covered by FOI legislation as it applies to cities and, even if they are, their names shouldn’t be released.

Alas, a judge agreed with them and so now all their names get omitted. It makes for much duller reading.

Categories: Uncategorized

14 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Brian // May 22, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    Didn’t your NW colleague Danny dig this up, Frances? Shouldn’t we paying the boys in blue whatever they ask for?

  • 2 Denis // May 22, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    The Mayor is the guy who runs the police baord, so next time you talk to him ask him why the policy continues

  • 3 Mary // May 22, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    Denis is right on. We should all also ask why, when every crime rate is down, all our politicians are jumping on the “more police” bandwagon.

    Facile, specious answers/justifications is what we’ll get. We should demand that our taxes go to prevention of the conditions that encourage crime – everything from poor planning that concentrates poverty to lack of investment in schools to growing gap between rich and poor.

  • 4 LP // May 22, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    We should demand that our taxes go to prevention of the conditions that encourage crime – everything from poor planning that concentrates poverty to lack of investment in schools to growing gap between rich and poor.

    Mary,

    I agree with your point but disagree with the city being responsible for using the proceeds of property tax collection to problems which should be covered by the provincial and federal governments.

    We already have enough ppty tax revenue being diverted away from what it was originally intended for, to add to that list.

  • 5 jesse // May 23, 2009 at 8:19 am

    Interesting how most of the $100K+ remunerations are not considered “executives”. http://vancouver.ca/police/FOI/2009/ExecutiveSalaries.pdf

  • 6 spartikus // May 23, 2009 at 9:36 am

    Before I become outraged (or not), I would like to know how this compares to the compensation of “non-executive” police in the RCMP, Toronto and Montreal. And the police of other countries, even.

  • 7 rf // May 24, 2009 at 6:32 am

    It is really getting excessive. Not for the average officer working a 35-40hr week, but when the overtime pay, for working a 60-65 hour week equates to $150k+ or even $200k+, that excessive.
    Believe or not, that not a 60-65 hour week is not exactly crazy in the private sector. I work 6 to 6 quite often and I’m know many workaholic professionals do. It what they do to get ahead or stay ahead in a world without pensions.
    I don’t think we should forget either, that for every officer (or fire fighter for that matter) on the VPD, there are probably 10 qualified and eager candidates who would do anything to work on the force. They are lined up out the gate trying to join these arms of the public service. Maybe that’s because of the money?
    The military volunteers are the real heros. The cops and firefighters are great, but lets not kid ourselves, it’s a pretty good gig if you can get it.

  • 8 spartikus // May 24, 2009 at 9:04 am

    I’m going to have to disagree with you there, rf.

    First, we are not even sure who these 100k+ earners are in the force. They could be beat cops, or they could be highly educated/specialized CSI types.

    Second, being a cop is damn hard. I know a few, and I’ve heard the stories that don’t make the news. I’ve even had an RCMP officer near tears as he related things he’d seen. He only spoke in general terms, but trust me, it was horrific. These men and women see the dark side every day.

    there are probably 10 qualified and eager candidates who would do anything to work on the force.

    Maybe so, but maybe not too. I note the VPD recently had to think outside the box in its bid to hire 110 new officers…

    Twenty years ago, a round of entrance tests would bring in a thousand people. These days, a few dozen might write them.

    And the days of just showing up at job fairs and handing out leaflets are over, Chow said.

    It also takes a hell of a lot of money to train a police officer. Canadians rightfully demand the highest standards of our police (and military too) and that costs $$$. (and yes, I realize that the Dziekanski inquiry and other incidents are revealing some serious issues with both training and structure of various police forces, but I have to say…where else but Canada would this receive significant and sustained national attention. Do you think anyone would bat an eye at a taser death south of the border?)

    The simple fact is, with the information we currently have, we have no idea whether this is an appropriate level of compensation and we should perhaps hold off rushing to judgment until more information comes to light.

    And this from the guy who thinks excessive compensation is a serious macro-economic problem :)

  • 9 fbula // May 24, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    Denis,

    Unfortunately, the mayor doesn’t have any say in this, unless Vancouver decides to (use its taxpayer money to) start a lawsuit demanding that all police info be included. This was a court decision and a simple motion by the mayor isn’t enough to reverse it.

  • 10 rf // May 25, 2009 at 6:23 am

    I think that the lack of applicants coincided with the peak of the economy. Shouldn’t be a problem now finding qualified people at $40-$50 hr.
    I don’t doubt that the job is hard, and I don’t doubt that they are entitled to $100-125K when they work some overtime.
    But remember, most of these officers are comfortably retired by age 50-55 if they choose to be. And if they are making that much because of the way overtime pay is structured, then the VPD needs some restructuring of it’s costs.
    But at $175-225K, they are making more than many doctors. That’s not right.

  • 11 spartiku // May 25, 2009 at 8:09 am

    I think that the lack of applicants coincided with the peak of the economy.

    The article is dated October 2008.

    But even acknowledging unemployment has jumped dramatically in the interim…you’re not seriously proposing firing the current force and rehiring new, lower-paid officers?

    And if they are making that much because of the way overtime pay is structured

    There’s an article in the Birdcage Liner today which raises two pertinent points: One, the “gang war” and the public demand for a response has led to a lot of overtime. Two, some of overtime is paid by outside parties:

    Fontaine conceded some monies were paid to police by outside employers such as the film industry and the fireworks festival, who rent out cops at overtime rates. He said the income would show up on the salary survey, but not come out of the police budget.

    The article also notes “A veteran constable is entitled to $89,900 regular pay per year” which, excuse my math, seems to fall in line with your $40-$50 hr range.

  • 12 rf // May 25, 2009 at 9:30 am

    I am not suggesting firing the continuous force. Absolutely not.

    I am supporting the hiring of new officers so as to minimize the overtime. $40-50 hr seems quite reasonable.

    However, overtime rates are excessive costly to the city.

    If you can find 60 hours to watch HBO’s “The Wire”, you get a pretty good idea of how the police view overtime pay. They want to work those extra hours. They want that extra pay. Baltimore had a very similar budget crisis and police overtime became a major issue (not just on the show, in the actual Baltimore). The parallels to Vancouver’s gang war seem all to similar. I get the impression that just about every cop given the opportunity to work at overtime rates will take it. Who’s going to turn down $60-80/hour to work an extra 8-10 hours a week?

  • 13 spartikus // May 25, 2009 at 9:52 am

    I am supporting the hiring of new officers so as to minimize the overtime. $40-50 hr seems quite reasonable.

    If $40-50 hr is the current pay scale, which from the information at hand it does, this sounds reasonable to me.

  • 14 Bill Lee // May 25, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    And are pensions based on regular or overall pay? Are there going to be major obligations down the road?

    And shouldn’t some of the expensive police on patrol be replaced by 300 social workers as much of the police interaction with the public is as social workers not law officials with a year’s training.

    And did anyone read Alan Garr’s piece on the size of the VPD public relations department and how he couldn’t get details of that either.

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