Having police in place when they are really needed

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

May 11, 2021



There is a comment in the Gazette from a former police officer who served for 30 years – it deserves some comment.  The police officer wrote:

“My point is …. pay duty officers are requested and paid for by a private company (ie construction, movie shoots) NOT Halton Region, so the suggestion that the City of Burlington request and pay for pay duty officers (out of our tax dollars) is ridiculous. It’s sad to see how the media has contributed to the rise in tension and hate towards the police, of late. AND yes I am proud of my honourable career as a police officer. I worked for HRPS for 30 years!”

Our purpose is not to identify the officer but to respond to her assertion that the Gazette has contributed to the rise in” tension and hate towards the police”.

Rattlesnake 1 police car

Most of the time the police are where they need to be.

The intention is to hold the police accountable and ensure that they be transparent and protect the public that hires them to do just that.

The word hate was introduced by the police officer – not the Burlington Gazette.

Police are often seen on the street, riding bicycles and keeping an eye on things – a basic part of good police work; getting out of the cruiser and seeing what is going on.

In the ten years we have covered Burlington the Gazette has reported on a lot of outstanding police work. There are a lot of smart, dedicated men and women serving the public.

The only thing ridiculous about paying for pay duty police officers is that the taxpayer would be paying twice.

Police officer told us he was on "bikini patrol" and that he loved his job.

Police officer told us he was on “bikini patrol” and that he loved his job.

Times are tough for many people. Coping with the financial damage being done to the hospitality sector is seriously hurting families and some of that pain gets expressed publicly.

People are fearful, they expect, want, and need support.

Most people recognize that is why we have a police service.

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Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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16 comments to Having police in place when they are really needed

  • Blair Smith

    David and Lynn are in agreement. My work here is done.

  • Wendy

    It’s very sad the way that my original comments were misinterpreted! My point was that why do our tax dollars need to be spent hiring pay duty officers to patrol the parks. The police have constantly been criticized in the media (and I did NOT direct it at the Gazette), throughout this pandemic and prior to. When a pastor in St Thomas was charged under the covid bylaws, police were criticized. When a Halton police officer had to ask kids and parents on a toboggan hill to leave, the media showed that and people criticized the police. When a father and son were stopped in Oakville at a recreation centre parking lot there was outrage ! They are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Some people don’t want to follow the Provincial and Municipal covid bylaws and when police do step in, they are criticized!! There are always armchair quarterbacks. My comments were not directed at the author of the Gazette article, however he seems to think they were.

    • Bob

      If your former chief of police had the trust of the community,(which he left in Florida) then he should have taken charge of the situation and said it was his decision. People aren’t criticizing police per se, they are criticizing how it is being performed.
      You can point out as many incidents as you wish where you feel police were unfairly criticized and there will be a David Millgard or Guy Paul Morin who should disagree

  • Bob

    And today all Halton Mayors are calling for outdoor activities to be relaxed.
    The same Burlington Mayor who was calling things out of control in the parks and needing a police presence not a week ago.
    Our political leaders need to come up with a message and stick to the message. There has been so much flip flopping for political gain throughout this crisis that it needs to end and leadership begin. At ALL levels.
    If we are shutting down for 4 weeks, lets shut it down, don’t move the goal posts and mid term say 6, then as we approach the goal posts again move it to June. Have leadership and say “listen, we are shutting down” Full Stop. When its time to open, open, but consistent information is needed and required.

    • David Barker

      WOW, Bob. I completely and utterly agree with you.

      Political leaders should look abroad at the experiences of NZ, Aus , Italy, Spain, and even the UK. Personly I think the UK, Italy and Spain are now opening up full bore too quickly. But time will tell. Our lockdowns have been a joke. They have not been lockdowns but inconveniences.

      Lockdown tight, get everyone vaccinated during it and we will come out of this sooner.

      Can someone clear something up for me. The officer says pay duty officers are paid for by whomever is requesting their service. And yet the writer of the article says “The only thing ridiculous about paying for pay duty police officers is that the taxpayer would be paying twice”. What’s the deal?

      • Jim Thomson

        So you want to lockdown until July? That’s when there will be enough vaccine to have partially vaccinated everyone. There won’t be enough to fully vaccinate everyone till September.

        • David Barker

          If necessary, yes ! I ask you, do you want to open up too early and allow the spread to continue? As Bob says (can’t believe I’m supporting Bob, LOL) our current state of affairs is not a lockdown. It’s a shame. Those imposing the lockdown should listen to and apply the lockdown as advised by the science advisory table.

      • Lynn Crosby

        And WOW David I completely agree with you! We have never had a proper lockdown, only mockdowns, which don’t work and have only dragged this all on much longer at much more cost. Considering we have the ability of seeing what works and doesn’t work elsewhere, this is especially bad. Our leaders seem to want to try to please everyone by sitting on the fence and putting their feet back and forth on either side based on who is lobbying them when and their messaging changes accordingly also. It doesn’t work of course and is now having the affect of pleasing nobody. How much could have been saved had we done this differently, time and time again?

      • Bob

        Police officers are paid wages like any other employee working in Ontario.
        When security is needed for events such as say Crane Hoisting where you would need to close off a road, or security for a paid event, then local bi-laws sometimes or just convenience in others require what is called ‘paid duty’ police.
        In this case, the officer is paid cash. I’ve never dealt with paid-duty in Halton, but that was my experience when in Toronto. No cheques, CASH. They use Halton police uniforms and resources such as vehicles etc. but it is not considered to be part of the “serve and protect” in this case it would be “serve and collect”.
        Where the double dipping would occur would be the officer has already been paid his hourly wage or salary for those wishing to split hairs. For Burlington who has already sent a cheque to the region to cover their percentage of the police budget to now pay police officers individually on top of that would be the “paying twice”

        And as an addendum, its nice to agree 🙂

        • Wendy

          Bob, police officers are NOT paid cash. The business requiring a paid duty officer goes through proper channels. There is an employee at HRPS that runs the program, requests are made through that employee and paid duties are posted for off duty officers to apply for. They aren’t “double dipping” as you put it, they take pay duties on days off. As far as police vehicles, they do not always use marked cruisers. Many times if a police vehicle is not needed (lights and for visual at traffic points), officers take their own personal cars. Contact HRPS for clarification if you require.

          • Bob

            I have not used a paid duty policeman for over 30 years but when I did it was cash to the officer at the time. (Toronto not Halton) so I apologize for the error.
            The police department is definitely paid twice. They’ve already been paid by the cities percentage of the HRPS budget to perform police duties.
            Like politicians, police should NEVER be for hire. They protect All or None. In the case of the parks, they chose none. There should never be “but if you pay me extra I’ll do it”
            as the inference of Paid Duty is.
            It was either Police work or it wasn’t.
            I’d be interested to know how this is paid out to the officer who is giving up their day off. Is it paid at time and a half? Double time? or does the officer get the full amount paid by the person purchasing police work? Is there still a minimum of 4 hours pay no matter how long on scene doing paid duty?

          • David Barker

            Thanks, Wendy for clearing that point. I wonder whether a correction to the article will be made?

        • David Barker

          Yes, it is. And with Lynn too. Did the world start spinning in the opposite direction? LOL.

          Just for clarification, if the police officer is not on his normal duty shift, i.e. might otherwise be at home, he technically would not be receiving pay for that time. So if the officer was to take a pay duty assignment he would not be double dipping. Am I correct? I have used “he” and “his” as non-gender specific.

          • Bob

            Would the officer be paid twice? It is my understanding that they are paid salary so that’s a good question. Perhaps Wendy could enlighten us on that when she explains the rate of pay a paid duty officer receives. If the opportunities are run by HRPS and paid by HRPS, would a first class constable be paid more/less/equal than a detective or second class comatable?
            If the officer was paid all the money received for doing the paid duty, in effect they would be doing security work and security companies should be doing it.
            If HRPS is taking a cut, then most definitely they are double dipping as the police budget was already paid by the city and as I have pointed out previously, Police and Poloticians should not be for hire. A democracy doesn’t work when those who can afford it have better policing.

  • Denise W.

    Rise in tension and hate? I haven’t thought that, nor felt an adversarial relationship existed between the Gazette and the HRPS. I hope that is not shared by the current people serving in our police force. Not my feeling at all. Nor anybody I know.

  • bonnie purkis

    I was sorry to read the comments by the retired police officer.

    Living in ward 5, we along with many of our neighbours often visit Burloak Park and we would welcome the appearance of officers on bicycles cycling through the park. If one takes the time to visit the Halton Regional Police website, they will find their motto to be ‘Progress Through Participation’. During this health crisis, what better way to show participation, then for the police to be friendly reminders that we are a long way from the finish line and guidelines need to be followed.

    To suggest that the taxpayers would be paying twice if officers were hired, it must be remembered that extra staff was being hired for the above mentioned reasons and although the cost for this additional staffing may be lower than paid officers, the financial cost to the taxpayers could be significantly higher, if these city employees are injured on the job by uncooperative residents.