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Police Chief agrees improvements are needed but will take time
Published Thursday, May 17, 2018 9:18PM CST
Last Updated Thursday, May 17, 2018 9:21PM CST
Police Chief Troy Cooper says he agrees with the recommended improvements in a recent review of the police service. But he cautions making some of the necessary changes will take time.
An extensive operations review for the Saskatoon Police Service was tabled at City Hall Thursday during a board of police commissioners meeting. According to the review, one area that needs improvement is the Patrol Availability Factor (PAF). That’s the percentage of on-duty time in which officers are available for proactive problem solving and crime prevention verses responding to calls.
Troy Cooper says it’s an area that will be addressed, but it could take a broad based approach. “I think it does need to improve but I think there are different ways to have it improved”
The report says in 2015, the overall PAF for patrol cars and sergeants was 29.6 per cent, which is lower than in 2004. It says PAF figures are lowest on Saturdays, which are sometimes the busiest for officers. The operations review says increasing the PAF to 40 percent would require an increase in staffing of 30 per cent under the current deployment model.
It suggests changing the deployment model to increase efficiency and patrol time on city streets.
But implementing that change could be challenging. The review proposes aligning shifts to reflect a 40-hour work week to avoid creating earned days off. And it says a more rational deployment model will require a renegotiation of collective agreements.
Police Chief Troy Cooper believes changes through collective bargaining can be achieved, but it will take time. “It’s something we have to look at. The twelve hour shift is a good example of that. It’s a bargained benefit. And if we want to change the shifting as they mentioned tonight to an eleven hour shift as we see in Vancouver, that’s something that has to be bargained fairly. And that’s a process that takes some time.”
Cooper says there are three collective bargaining agreements with the police service. He says at least two of them are being re-negotiated.
Darlene Brander, Chair of the Board of Police Commissioners, says issues related to collective bargaining could be a challenge to implement. “There are collective bargaining agreements in play already with some of those recommendations.” She says there are going to have to be discussions between the unions and the police service.
The review also proposed changes to the executive structure to reduce duplication of responsibilities.
Other recommendations in the report have already been implemented. This year, police began piloting a Telephone Response Unit. The service has also added an access and privacy officer with staff that report to legal services.
The report says several other initiatives have been undertaken to increase efficiency. It also touched on the demographics of the police force noting it has “one of the highest ratios of female officers.”