The Star’s View: Police Services Act has to suspend police officers without pay
If you were looking for the perfect example of why police officers should be suspended without pay, you’d look no further than the case of Dorothy Nesbeth.The Windsor constable has been off the job for more than four years, and during that time she’s collected almost $400,000 in pay.
Having been convicted in October of discreditable conduct and deceit for failing to declare a substantial amount of alcohol at the border, Nesbeth is currently fighting to keep her job.But regardless of the outcome and despite the conviction, she won’t have to repay the citizens of Windsor for the money she collected while the case dragged on and on, because that’s the way it works under the Ontario Police Services Act.
This case is just one of many where suspended officers collect full salary, benefits, raises and accumulated sick days for two or more years, even though they likely never set foot in the workplace during their suspensions.From 2005-2009, $17 million was paid out through Ontario’s 12 largest police services to cops who didn’t work but were still on the books, and who couldn’t be replaced because, well, because they were still on the books.
So it’s no surprise the chiefs have been asking the provincial Liberals for years to give them the authority to suspend without pay when warranted. It’s also no surprise the Liberals have failed to make the necessary changes. Ontario is the only province in Canada that makes it mandatory to pay police officers while on suspension, and this obvious loophole in the Police Services Act gives incentive to delay the inevitable as long as possible.
The chiefs argue, and very persuasively, that this wrong could easily be righted with changes to the act. If your income goes from the Sunshine List to zero overnight, there’s a real incentive to settle the matter, even if the decision is not in your favour.
The issue came up again in June, when the chiefs asked the Liberals for the power to suspend officers without pay for incidents happening both on and off duty. To date nothing has been done, because the Kathleen Wynne government, like the government of Dalton McGuinty before her, can’t be bothered.
But why? If this were a proper practice, police services from coast to coast would be doing what Ontario does. The fact we stand alone clearly shows the system is unfair not just to taxpayers, but to the officers who serve their communities with distinction.
Should chiefs hold all the cards when it comes to making the call? Absolutely not. There has to be a process and third-party review to ensure the decision is just.
That would be the easy part. The hard part is making the Wynne government open up the Police Services Act. What is she waiting for?http://blogs.windsorstar.com/opinion/th ... ithout-pay