Or how about PS Law, or OPP-Parry Sound? Interesting names for a TV series but perhaps we would be better off more like Mayberry with an Andy Griffith in charge. But times have changed, and so have the types of ‘incidents’ seen in a small town. In this post we’ll take a look at the variety of activities that occupy the police in Parry Sound and their associated cost. If you haven’t, go back and read the first post in this series for an introduction to the information presented below. Of course it’s best to read the whole package which was part of the November 4th Parry Sound Council Meeting package, available at the Town’s website.

The cost for policing in Parry Sound for 2015 is expected to be just a bit shy of $2 million. Of that total about half is related to “Calls for Service”. Calls for Service refers to the actions taken by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) in response to calls, traffic enforcement, drug investigations and the like. Basically the day-to-day stuff that the police are expected to perform, but in this case it’s itemized and billed at a per-incident rate. Actually it’s billed according to the type of incident. Some take more time and are billed at a higher rate than others. For example a “Traffic” incident is charged at a 3.3-hour rate while a “Violent Criminal Code” incident is charged at a 14.2-hour rate. This hourly rate is then multiplied by a common per hour rate, about $86 per hour, to come up with the actual charge. So a Traffic incident costs the Town about $283, and a Violent Criminal Code incident about $1,200. Parry Sound’s charges for 2015 are estimated on the basis of the average annual number of incidents between 2010 and 2013. But remember this is not the full cost to Parry Sound, multiply by about 2 to account for the ‘overhead’ of the OPP.

Let’s start with a summary (table below) of the major categories of Calls for Service as provided by the OPP, their four-year average number of incidents, the average time charged per incident, and the estimated direct cost to Parry Sound for 2015.

Calls for Service 2014-11

If we look at the various categories we see that the costs drop in the order: Operational > Violent Criminal Code > Property Crime Violations >> Drugs & Drug Possession > Other Criminal Code Violations > Traffic > Operational 2 > Statutes & Acts.

It’s worth noting that if there was no ‘crime’ in Parry Sound there would still be a need to charge OPP time against something. If you have a certain number of police staff in Parry Sound their time needs to be charged against something. In time I guess staff would be reduced, but in the interim their time needs to be allocated to something. That’s perhaps where the Operational and Operational 2 categories come into play. But let’s take a look at what are the more common calls keeping the OPP busy for each of these categories.

Animal Issues (Isn’t this a By-Law issue?)
Assist Public
Domestic Disturbance
Family Dispute
Found Items (Property)
Lost Items (Property)
Missing Person
Neighbour Dispute
Noise Complaints (Isn’t this a By-Law issue?)
Phone Nuisance
Suspicious Person or Vehicle
Trouble With Youth
Unwanted Persons

Violent Criminal Code
Assault Level 1
Criminal Harassment
Sexual Assault
Utter Threats to Person

Property Crime Violations

Drugs & Drug Possession
Possession – Cannabis
Trafficking – Cannabis

Other Criminal Code Violations
Bail Violations
Breach of Probation
Disturb the Peace
Fail to Attend Court

Motor Vehicle – Property Damage
Motor Vehicle – Personal Injury

Operational 2
911 Call / 911 Hang Up
False Alarm

Statutes & Acts
Landlord / Tenant
Mental Health Act
Trespass to Property Act

Those are the bigger items in terms of the calls and offenses that have occupied the OPP in Parry Sound over the past few years. In terms of totals the greatest number of Calls for Service was seen in 2011 with 2,773. This number dropped to about 2,313 by 2013, but the 4-year average used for 2015 Service Per Call billing is 2,549. If we held the number to 2,313 we would save about $100,000.

It’s interesting to note that the two highest cost components of the OPP Call for Service charges are for quite different offences. The Operational calls, costing an estimated $280,000 in 2015 are for ‘soft’ offenses or even public service activities such as family disputes, animal issues, lost and found items, many of which do not seem to warrant the use of the police. The next most expensive category at a bit more than $223,000 is listed as Violent Criminal Code with calls related to assaults and harassment.

So that’s the broad overview of police activity in Parry Sound. Here are a few more figures regarding the costs Parry Sound can expect in 2015 for a variety of Call for Services. It mostly a bit of trivia, but bizarrely interesting. Again double the figures to get the overhead inclusive figures.

Assist the Public – 89 incidents (~$26,000)
Animals – 49 incidents (~$14,000)
Domestic Disturbance – 86 incidents (~$25,000)
Family Dispute – 50 incidents (~$15,000)
Lost & Found – 187 incidents (~$55,000)
Noise Complaints – 85 incidents (~$25,000)
Suspicious Person or Vehicle – 89 incidents (~$26,000)
Trouble with Youths – 83 incidents (~$24,000)
911 call / hang up – 332 incidents (~$34,000)
False Alarms – 122 incidents (~$13,000)
Bail & Probation – 74 incidents (~$45,000)
Mischief – 83 incidents (~$43,000)
Assault & Harassment – 123 incidents (~$150,000)
Sexual Assaults – 15 incidents (~$18,000)
Uttering Threats – 34 incidents (~$42,000)

There you go, a summary of the leading Calls for Services that make our taxes as high as they are because of the OPP costs. And there is nothing that Parry Sound Town Council can do about it except ask people to avoid making unnecessary 911 calls, a $34,000 unnecessary expense.

The next post will take a look at how our Calls for Service Compare with those of our neighbouring municipalities. Didn’t I tell you it was fun reading the Parry Sound Council agenda packages? It’s like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get. (Apologies to Forest Gump.)

Low Cost, Low Tech Surveillance Alternative? (Parry Sound in Four Colour)