Not any more

Mounties, police officers earned $80 million in overtime during Olympics

In Canada on August 26, 2010 at 08:59

VANCOUVER — Police working on Olympic security racked up $80 million in overtime during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games.

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Province under access-to-information legislation show $47 million in overtime was paid to about 4,300 RCMP members. A further $33 million in overtime was paid to roughly 1,700 police officers seconded from other Canadian police departments — all part of a $159.5-million “professional services” tab.

“At the end of the day, there was a lot of overtime, there’s no doubt about that,” Supt. Kevin Debruyckere, the RCMP’s Integrated Security Unit operations officer, acknowledged Wednesday.

But Debruyckere defended the overtime costs, saying police had to balance the need for resources with keeping home units up to strength.

“There’s only so many police officers to go around,” he said. “It’s not like it was at the Beijing 2008 Olympics where there was an unlimited number of police officers within a couple of hundred miles. We had to pull people from right across the country.”

One challenge, Debruyckere said, was the length of the security operation.

“It was really a struggle to deploy that many people for that length of time,” he added. “Compared to the G8 or G20 in Toronto, where people were gone for a week, this was a 30-day deployment. On a day-to-day basis, we staffed each of our venues and our sites with the resources that we needed and some of that included overtime.”

The documents show that $31 million was paid by the ISU as regular RCMP pay to “non-federal” cops.

Debruyckere said that didn’t include wages that were being paid to Mounties from Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, B.C. and RCMP headquarters.

The documents also show that $106.9 million was spent on travel. Debruyckere said travel costs included about $85 million for accommodations, including three cruise ships brought in to house much of the security team.

About $5 million was spent on air travel, including expensive charter flights needed to get RCMP officers home when the Games were over, he said.

The ISU’s portion of the $900-million total Olympic security bill was originally budgeted at $491.9 million.

It included $177.5 million for regular pay, secondments, overtime and benefits; $306.3 million for operational costs, including accommodation, meals, travel and fuel; and $8.1 million for capital costs, such as radio equipment and vehicles.

Debruyckere said that while the Olympic security bill is still being finalized, it will come in under budget.

But Maureen Bader, B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation fumed.

“We’re going to be left with this legacy of debt in all kinds of different ways and police overtime costs is just one more example,” she said.

Federal NDP Olympic critic Peter Julian complained that getting the true cost of the Olympics is “like some kind of water torture.”

“If overtime is paid out, it’s because things have not been set up properly in the first place,” Julian said. “The problem is that each of these budget envelopes add up to what is a frighteningly high figure.”

Vancouver Province

© Copyright (c) The Province

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