News / Calgary

Calgary police spend $2 million more than planned on overtime

Calgary police appear to have frequently burned the midnight oil in 2012, as the service racked up $2.1 million more than it budgeted for overtime.

That figure was higher than the $1.8 million overtime overage reported in 2011, but still well short of the $5.4 million in extra costs incurred in 2008, which came at the peak of a gang war and abnormally high homicide rate.

"We're always looking at ways to lower that cost — it's an ongoing focus of the service to try to manage overtime as best we can," said police spokesperson Kevin Brookwell. "It's difficult to do when you have no control over a lot of the events that are driving it."

A fourth-quarter report published by the service specifies that $371,000 in extra costs came through covering turnover and short-term illnesses of civilian staff members in key positions. The report also makes it clear the extra overtime funds were offset by savings in other areas of the police budget.

Calgary Police Commission chair Mike Shaikh said his group budgets "conservatively" on overtime and he expects costs to run over every year.

"We always budget less because we don't want people to think 'Oh, the budget is there, let's go spend it,' " he said.

Ald. Shane Keating, who sits with Shaikh on the commission board, said the additional costs only become an issue if it's routinely the same police department tallying extra hours.

"I would hate for us to over-budget and then have extra personnel around if it wasn't necessary," Keating said. "We're paying it either way to some degree."

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