Majority of Abby police officers earned over $75,000 in 2014

Abbotsford Police Department has budget of $44 million

Almost 200 people earned more than $100,000 working for the Abbotsford Police Department in 2014.

Each year, in mandated statements of financial information, municipalities, including the City of Abbotsford, release a list of all staff earning more than $75,000 in renumeration for the previous year. That does not include the police departments.

The News requested, through the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, a list of Abbotsford Police Department (APD) staff earning more than $75,000 in the 2014 calendar year. The News received a list of 238 staff members, though with the majority of their names redacted.

The APD has about 325 people on its payroll – including 212 police officers, with an additional 10 officers working at other organizations such as the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) – and 84 full-time, five part-time and 23 casual civilian employees, according to Abbotsford Police Const. Ian MacDonald.

In 2014, the highest earning staff member was Deputy Chief Const. Len Goerke, who earned $218,695. He left the force in June 2014 to become chief of  the West Vancouver Police Department. His departure from the APD was technically a retirement when he left and he received an end-of-term payout, which boosted his total annual income.

His remuneration was followed by Chief Bob Rich (in photo), who earned $200,684. An unnamed detective was third on the list, followed by two deputy chief constables.

According to the APD website, a first-year (or fifth-class) constable earns a salary of $59,907 annually, or $28.80 hourly. After three years, a constable becomes reaches first-class grade, and will earn $92,165 annually ($44.31 hourly). That is an increase of 54 per cent over the first three years.

Comparatively, the Toronto police pays cadets-in-training $58,220, rising to $92,433 by the time they become first-class constables.

The RCMP website states that the entry salary for a constable is $50,647. That salary rises incrementally over 36 months of service to $82,108 – an increase of 62 per cent.

MacDonald said staff on the list making more than the $92,000 first-class constable rate is due to raises for seniority or promotions to roles such as sergeant. The highest-earning constable on the list made $162,121 in 2014 and was ninth-highest overall.

Most officers made additional wages due to overtime, as well as retroactive pay in 2014 due to a union settlement.

“Our contract expired in 2012 and when our new contract was signed in late 2014, there were retro adjustments made,” said MacDonald.

He said overtime for officers can vary based on a variety of factors. If an officer agrees to cover a shift for someone else, he or she would likely just be paid the same salary.

If there is a significant incident and the officers are held over because they are still processing a crime scene, or dealing with an accused, they go into an overtime scenario where “the first two hours of overtime are paid at time-and-a-half and any additional overtime after that is double time.”

If there is a necessity to call officers in on days off, they are paid double time.

MacDonald said in the past when an officer had to testify in court, it would frequently be on a day off. Now the police department works closely with the courts to try to ensure officers are on shift when they need to be in court, to reduce costs.

“It takes a fair amount of juggling, when you think about it,” said MacDonald. He added that unless there are extenuating circumstances such as an ongoing crime investigation or going to court, officers must take an eight-hour break between shifts.

Ninety per cent of the APD’s budget goes to staff-related expenses, according to its 2014 budget presentation. The police department’s 2014 operating budget was about $44.4 million.

At the City of Abbotsford, 234 staff earned more than $75,000, while 140 earned $100,000 or more. Of those earning more than $100,000, almost 53 per cent were firefighters. The city has about 800 employees.

Overtime, retroactive pay drive up salaries: report

Contractual increases, overtime and retroactive pay are driving the increase in city salaries, according to a report recently brought to council.

The city’s 2014 draft financial statements, which are required to report all employees paid more than $75,000 in a year, were presented in April.

Those documents showed that the number of staff earning more than $75,000 rose from 231 in 2013 to 234 in 2014. However, the number of staff earning more than $100,000 rose from 114 to 140 in the same period, up almost 23 per cent.

Following that report, council directed staff to report on what was driving the escalating wages, back pay and overtime.

That report showed that in 2014, there was a pay increase of 1.75 per cent for CUPE union members, 2.5 per cent for the firefighters’ union (IAFF) and a 1.75 per cent cost-of-living adjustment for exempt city employees.

There was also a 14 per cent increase in overtime incurred by CUPE staff from 2013 to 2014, while overtime paid to firefighters decreased 2.6 per cent. According to the report, that is expected to continue to decrease as the city hired more flex firefighters.

Without overtime, retroactive payments or retirements, only 202 people would have earned more than $75,000, instead of 234, according to the report.

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