Cops’ mental-health absences are undermining OPP: audit

Suicides among OPP officers are higher than on-duty deaths. Moreover, OPP does not formally keep track of the number of officers that have taken their own lives.

Cops’ mental-health absences are undermining OPP: audit

Postby Thomas » Tue Dec 07, 2021 7:43 pm

The Ontario Provincial Police is being undermined by the fact that one-quarter of its full-time constables are unable to serve on the front lines, including an increasing number who are on leave for reasons of mental ill health, Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk said in a report.

The force’s frontline service is made up mostly of constables, the lowest-ranking officers whom citizens most frequently interact with, and whose duties include conducting patrols and making traffic stops.

In her annual report on a range of provincial offices and operations, Lysyk’s office published 18 audits on Wednesday. Several were related to the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, while others pertained to its management of its police force, homelessness in the province, and education.

Many problems that Lysyk identified in her probe of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) boiled down to staffing.

The OPP is headquartered in Orillia, which is north of Toronto near the Muskoka region. From 161 detachments and stations, it polices 327 of the province’s 444 municipalities, where about 16 per cent of Ontarians lived last year.

Also last year, 111 of the 230 municipalities that kept comparable records of frontline officers’ hours found that police were fulfilling less than three-quarters of the service hours the force thought were necessary, and that, in 26 municipalities, officers were working half the time they were needed.

Understaffed regions solved fewer crimes than ones that were better staffed, Lysyk’s report points out. Nor has the OPP “taken sufficient steps” to evenly distribute officers in the jurisdictions it’s responsible for.

At the end of 2020, the OPP employed 2,522 civilian employees and 5,577 police officers, including 3,933 frontline constables. But 26 per cent of full-time constable positions were vacant in 2020, leaving just 2,905 on duty.

“Vacancies in frontline constables appear to be contributing to a decline in the service levels provided by the OPP to municipalities,” Lysyk told reporters on Wednesday.

Of the more than 1,000 missing constables at the beginning of 2020, just 12 per cent of the positions were unfilled. One-third of the constables were on long-term leave, due mainly to traumatic experiences — causing the OPP’s workplace-safety claims due to post-traumatic stress disorder to “rapidly increase.”

Another 37 per cent were unfilled because of officers’ “accommodated working arrangements,” many for mental-health reasons. Accommodated working arrangements can include administrative roles and only daytime shifts.

The remaining 18 per cent were temporarily reassigned to non-frontline positions.

“The OPP is losing frontline officers, and officers still on the force are experiencing traumatic stress and related wellness issues,” Lysyk said in a news release. “Our audit concluded that the OPP is not consistently delivering provincial and municipal police services efficiently and effectively.”

Lysyk also said the OPP hasn’t estimated the increase in stress-related vacancies and how they’ll affect the force.

The auditor general also found that detachments don’t schedule officers efficiently. Most service calls come in between the peak hours of 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. From 1 a.m. to 7 a.m., meanwhile, they drop off by 75 per cent. But OPP detachments schedule only 25 per cent fewer constables for the relatively quiet overnight shift.

Constables also take most of their vacation and work the fewest hours in August, the month in which they get the most service calls.

Lysyk also identified several accountability problems in the OPP:

- Officers’ violations are increasing, yet inspectors of inappropriate behaviour “lack authority to drive improvement.”

- The force doesn’t accurately track or monitor how long officers take to respond to calls.

- Nor does it measure its own performance against explicit targets, as it used to.

“Our audit concluded that the OPP did not have processes in place to consistently deliver provincial and municipal police services efficiently and effectively,” Lysyk’s report said.

Partly because of the problems Lysyk identified, the OPP’s payroll is now fatter, even though fewer officers are working. The force is also doing less preventative policing, all while coping with a similar crime rate and more service calls.

The OPP’s total budget was $1.2 billion last year, and has gone up in all but one of the last nine years. Its budget is now 26 per cent higher than in 2011.

In 2020, OPP officers also spent half as much time on patrol (975,000 hours) than in 2011 (1.87 million hours).

Meanwhile, service calls increased by 19 per cent from 2011 (716,500) to 2019 (851,500). Calls in 2020 (722,500) were still higher than in 2011, but the auditor general said they were unusually low because public health measures kept more people inside and alone.

Ontario’s crime rate has shrunk over the last decade, but, since 2014, the number of incidents reported every year in OPP jurisdictions has remained about the same.

https://ipolitics.ca/2021/12/01/cops-me ... opp-audit/
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OPP officer PTSD contributes to shortages: audit

Postby Thomas » Tue Dec 07, 2021 7:45 pm

TORONTO — Medical leave taken by Ontario Provincial Police officers with post-traumatic stress disorder is contributing significantly to understaffing at detachments across the province and affecting service levels, the auditor general has found.

In her annual report released Wednesday, Bonnie Lysyk said that in 2020 more than 1,000 front-line constable positions were vacant – about a quarter of all such positions in the OPP.

There are several types of leave, Lysyk noted, including parental leave, but the increase in vacancies is driven by employees off due to Workplace Safety and Insurance Board claims – that number jumped 364 per cent between 2015 and 2020.

"The increasing number of OPP officers filing WSIB claims for PTSD and other mental health injuries is symptomatic of an ongoing issue related to officer mental health and stress," Lysyk wrote in the report.

Ontario Provincial Police Association president Rob Stinson said he's glad the report acknowledged the problem, because it has been going on for a long time.

"You can't run with 1,000 members short," he said.

"The population in my patrol area doubled and the number of officers was down 60 per cent … It just doesn't make sense."

The government has made great strides in recent years addressing mental health in policing, Stinson said, including with the announcement of a health and wellness centre for first responders, and a round-the-clock triage line. But what is really needed to address the shortage is simply hiring more officers, he said.

A spokesman for Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said the government took swift action to support the mental health and well-being of police by ordering an independent review of the OPP’s workplace culture.

More than 70 per cent of the review's recommendations are being implemented, Stephen Warner said in a statement, including the hiring of 200 new OPP officers to assist with PTSD-related vacancies.

The government's most recent budget put $12.5 million over three years toward mental-health services for the OPP.

WSIB claims by OPP employees led to $42.7 million in costs and 11,037 days of leave in 2020, the auditor's report said.

The understaffing has also led to higher overtime costs, increasing from $32 million in 2015-16 to $36 million in 2019-20, the report found.

"We question the sustainability of the rapidly rising financial costs, declining front-line officers in local communities, and effects on employee well-being caused by traumatic stress at the OPP," the report said.

"We noted the OPP had not performed any analysis to project how much the financial cost and vacancies associated with traumatic stress would continue to rise over the coming years, or whether these effects could be mitigated."

The staffing shortages led to 28 per cent fewer hours of patrols, and 26 municipalities received less than half of the hours of policing services they needed, the report found.

The audit also found that regions with higher vacancies of front-line officers resolve fewer crimes.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2021.

By Allison Jones, The Canadian Press

https://www.northumberlandnews.com/news ... ges-audit/
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PTSD among Ontario Provincial Police officers contributing t

Postby Thomas » Tue Dec 07, 2021 7:49 pm

PTSD among Ontario Provincial Police officers contributing to staffing shortages: auditor general

TORONTO — Medical leave taken by Ontario Provincial Police officers with post-traumatic stress disorder is contributing significantly to understaffing at detachments across the province and affecting service levels, the auditor general has found.

In her annual report released Wednesday, Bonnie Lysyk said that in 2020 more than 1,000 front-line constable positions were vacant – about a quarter of all such positions in the OPP.

There are several types of leave, Lysyk noted, including parental leave, but the increase in vacancies is driven by employees off due to Workplace Safety and Insurance Board claims _ that number jumped 364 per cent between 2015 and 2020.

“The increasing number of OPP officers filing WSIB claims for PTSD and other mental health injuries is symptomatic of an ongoing issue related to officer mental health and stress,” Lysyk wrote in the report.

Ontario Provincial Police Association president Rob Stinson said he’s glad the report acknowledged the problem, because it has been going on for a long time.

“You can’t run with 1,000 members short,” he said.

“The population in my patrol area doubled and the number of officers was down 60 per cent ? It just doesn’t make sense.”

The government has made great strides in recent years addressing mental health in policing, Stinson said, including with the announcement of a health and wellness centre for first responders, and a round-the-clock triage line. But what is really needed to address the shortage is simply hiring more officers, he said.

A spokesman for Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said the government took swift action to support the mental health and well-being of police by ordering an independent review of the OPP’s workplace culture.

More than 70 per cent of the review’s recommendations are being implemented, Stephen Warner said in a statement, including the hiring of 200 new OPP officers to assist with PTSD-related vacancies.

The government’s most recent budget put $12.5 million over three years toward mental-health services for the OPP.

WSIB claims by OPP employees led to $42.7 million in costs and 11,037 days of leave in 2020, the auditor’s report said.

The understaffing has also led to higher overtime costs, increasing from $32 million in 2015-16 to $36 million in 2019-20, the report found.

“We question the sustainability of the rapidly rising financial costs, declining front-line officers in local communities, and effects on employee well-being caused by traumatic stress at the OPP,” the report said.

“We noted the OPP had not performed any analysis to project how much the financial cost and vacancies associated with traumatic stress would continue to rise over the coming years, or whether these effects could be mitigated.”

The staffing shortages led to 28 per cent fewer hours of patrols, and 26 municipalities received less than half of the hours of policing services they needed, the report found.

The audit also found that regions with higher vacancies of front-line officers resolve fewer crimes.

https://www.sootoday.com/ontario-news/o ... al-4817295

https://globalnews.ca/news/8416334/opp- ... or-report/

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OPP frontline constable shortage grows to over 1,000 vacanci

Postby Thomas » Tue Dec 07, 2021 7:50 pm

The OPP was short 1,028 frontline constables last year, which resulted in fewer officers covering larger patrol areas, Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk’s 2021 annual report says.

Auditors found the vacancies were the result of 340 frontline constables on long-term leave, 377 on accommodated working arrangements due to injury or illness, 189 were assigned to non-frontline temporary duties, and the force also had 122 unfilled positions.

“We spoke with staff at two municipalities that had recently terminated their contracts with the OPP,” the report says. “These municipalities cited a lack of police presence in their community as a major factor in their decision.

“One of the municipalities told us that the service level and visibility of OPP officers had been an ongoing issue and that it had received complaints from the public, specifically about a lack of foot patrols in the community.”

The auditor’s report focused attention on a rise in WSIB claims related to the stress of the frontline constable’s role.

Three-quarters of all OPP WSIB claims last year were for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), resulting in 11,037 days of leave, the report says.

“We found that medical leave taken by officers due to a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was significantly contributing to increasing vacancies at detachments,” the auditor’s report says.

“In addition, the OPP was incurring rapidly increasing financial costs, reaching $42.7 million in 2020, in relation to Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) claims submitted by officers, in large part due to claims for PTSD. By the end of 2020, 775 OPP employees were on long-term leave, an increase of 62% over the 480 on leave at the end of 2016.”

In its official response included in the report, the OPP agreed with all the recommendations for improvement made by the auditor.

Ontario Provincial Police Association (OPPA) President and CEO Rob Stinson said the organization has been attempting to draw attention to the staffing shortage for the past two years.

The shortfall put increasing pressure on the remaining frontline officers, he said.

“During the last two years with the pandemic, the amount of manpower-intensive crimes has risen dramatically … your domestic assaults, your mental health calls,” Stinson said. “They went up over 100%.

“In small communities that we deal with, the population has doubled and the amount of officers has decreased proportionately, which is the opposite of what you want,” he added.

A large number of officers brought on after a hiring freeze in the early 1990s will be eligible to retire in the next few years, creating the potential for even more severe staffing shortages unless action is taken to correct the situation, he said.

https://o.canada.com/news/provincial/op ... -vacancies
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PTSD among OPP officers contributing to staffing shortages:

Postby Thomas » Tue Dec 07, 2021 7:52 pm

PTSD among OPP officers contributing to staffing shortages: auditor general

TORONTO -- Medical leave taken by Ontario Provincial Police officers with post-traumatic stress disorder is contributing significantly to understaffing at detachments across the province and affecting service levels, the auditor general has found.

In her annual report released Wednesday, Bonnie Lysyk said that in 2020 more than 1,000 front-line constable positions were vacant - about a quarter of all such positions in the OPP.

There are several types of leave, Lysyk noted, including parental leave, but the increase is driven by employees off due to Workplace Safety and Insurance Board claims - that number increased 364 per cent between 2015 and 2020.

"The increasing number of OPP officers filing WSIB claims for PTSD and other mental health injuries is symptomatic of an ongoing issue related to officer mental health and stress," Lysyk wrote in the report.

Those claims led to $42.7 million in costs and 11,037 days of leave in 2020, the report said.

The understaffing has also led to higher overtime costs, increasing from $32 million in 2015-16 to $36 million in 2019-20, the report found.

"We question the sustainability of the rapidly rising financial costs, declining front-line officers in local communities, and effects on employee well-being caused by traumatic stress at the OPP," the report said.

"We noted the OPP had not performed any analysis to project how much the financial cost and vacancies associated with traumatic stress would continue to rise over the coming years, or whether these effects could be mitigated."

The staffing shortages led to 28 per cent fewer hours of patrols, and 26 municipalities received less than half of the hours of policing services they needed, the report found.

The audit also found that regions with higher front-line officer vacancies resolve fewer crimes.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2021.

https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/ptsd-among-o ... -1.5688885

https://torontosun.com/news/provincial/ ... tor-report
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OPP frontline constable shortage grows to over 1,000 vacanci

Postby Thomas » Tue Dec 07, 2021 7:53 pm

OPP frontline constable shortage grows to over 1,000 vacancies

The OPP was short 1,028 frontline constables last year, which resulted in fewer officers covering larger patrol areas, Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk’s 2021 annual report says.

Auditors found the vacancies were the result of 340 frontline constables on long-term leave, 377 on accommodated working arrangements due to injury or illness, 189 were assigned to non-frontline temporary duties, and the force also had 122 unfilled positions.

“We spoke with staff at two municipalities that had recently terminated their contracts with the OPP,” the report says. “These municipalities cited a lack of police presence in their community as a major factor in their decision.

“One of the municipalities told us that the service level and visibility of OPP officers had been an ongoing issue and that it had received complaints from the public, specifically about a lack of foot patrols in the community.”

The auditor’s report focused attention on a rise in WSIB claims related to the stress of the frontline constable’s role.

Three-quarters of all OPP WSIB claims last year were for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), resulting in 11,037 days of leave, the report says.

“We found that medical leave taken by officers due to a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was significantly contributing to increasing vacancies at detachments,” the auditor’s report says.

“In addition, the OPP was incurring rapidly increasing financial costs, reaching $42.7 million in 2020, in relation to Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) claims submitted by officers, in large part due to claims for PTSD. By the end of 2020, 775 OPP employees were on long-term leave, an increase of 62% over the 480 on leave at the end of 2016.”

In its official response included in the report, the OPP agreed with all the recommendations for improvement made by the auditor.

Ontario Provincial Police Association (OPPA) President and CEO Rob Stinson said the organization has been attempting to draw attention to the staffing shortage for the past two years.

The shortfall put increasing pressure on the remaining frontline officers, he said.

“During the last two years with the pandemic, the amount of manpower-intensive crimes has risen dramatically … your domestic assaults, your mental health calls,” Stinson said. “They went up over 100%.

“In small communities that we deal with, the population has doubled and the amount of officers has decreased proportionately, which is the opposite of what you want,” he added.

A large number of officers brought on after a hiring freeze in the early 1990s will be eligible to retire in the next few years, creating the potential for even more severe staffing shortages unless action is taken to correct the situation, he said.

https://torontosun.com/news/provincial/ ... -vacancies
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OPP frontline constable shortage grows to over 1,000 vacanci

Postby Thomas » Tue Dec 07, 2021 7:55 pm

The OPP was short 1,028 frontline constables last year, which resulted in fewer officers covering larger patrol areas, Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk’s 2021 annual report says.

Auditors found the vacancies were the result of 340 frontline constables on long-term leave, 377 on accommodated working arrangements due to injury or illness, 189 were assigned to non-frontline temporary duties, and the force also had 122 unfilled positions.

“We spoke with staff at two municipalities that had recently terminated their contracts with the OPP,” the report says. “These municipalities cited a lack of police presence in their community as a major factor in their decision.

“One of the municipalities told us that the service level and visibility of OPP officers had been an ongoing issue and that it had received complaints from the public, specifically about a lack of foot patrols in the community.”

The auditor’s report focused attention on a rise in WSIB claims related to the stress of the frontline constable’s role.

Three-quarters of all OPP WSIB claims last year were for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), resulting in 11,037 days of leave, the report says.

“We found that medical leave taken by officers due to a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was significantly contributing to increasing vacancies at detachments,” the auditor’s report says.

“In addition, the OPP was incurring rapidly increasing financial costs, reaching $42.7 million in 2020, in relation to Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) claims submitted by officers, in large part due to claims for PTSD. By the end of 2020, 775 OPP employees were on long-term leave, an increase of 62% over the 480 on leave at the end of 2016.”

In its official response included in the report, the OPP agreed with all the recommendations for improvement made by the auditor.

Ontario Provincial Police Association (OPPA) President and CEO Rob Stinson said the organization has been attempting to draw attention to the staffing shortage for the past two years.

The shortfall put increasing pressure on the remaining frontline officers, he said.

“During the last two years with the pandemic, the amount of manpower-intensive crimes has risen dramatically … your domestic assaults, your mental health calls,” Stinson said. “They went up over 100%.

“In small communities that we deal with, the population has doubled and the amount of officers has decreased proportionately, which is the opposite of what you want,” he added.

A large number of officers brought on after a hiring freeze in the early 1990s will be eligible to retire in the next few years, creating the potential for even more severe staffing shortages unless action is taken to correct the situation, he said.

https://o.canada.com/news/provincial/op ... -vacancies
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OPP officers' PTSD contributing to staffing shortages: Audit

Postby Thomas » Fri Dec 10, 2021 6:23 am

OPP officers' PTSD contributing to staffing shortages: Auditor report

In 2020 more than 1,000 front-line constable positions were vacant

Medical leave taken by Ontario Provincial Police officers with post-traumatic stress disorder is contributing significantly to understaffing at detachments across the province and affecting service levels, the auditor general has found.

In her annual report released Wednesday, Bonnie Lysyk said that in 2020 more than 1,000 front-line constable positions were vacant – about a quarter of all such positions in the OPP.

There are several types of leave, Lysyk noted, including parental leave, but the increase is driven by employees off due to Workplace Safety and Insurance Board claims – that number increased 364 per cent between 2015 and 2020.

“The increasing number of OPP officers filing WSIB claims for PTSD and other mental health injuries is symptomatic of an ongoing issue related to officer mental health and stress,” Lysyk wrote in the report.

Those claims led to $42.7 million in costs and 11,037 days of leave in 2020, the report said.

The understaffing has also led to higher overtime costs, increasing from $32 million in 2015-16 to $36 million in 2019-20, the report found.

“We question the sustainability of the rapidly rising financial costs, declining front-line officers in local communities, and effects on employee well-being caused by traumatic stress at the OPP,” the report said.

“We noted the OPP had not performed any analysis to project how much the financial cost and vacancies associated with traumatic stress would continue to rise over the coming years, or whether these effects could be mitigated.”

The staffing shortages led to 28 per cent fewer hours of patrols, and 26 municipalities received less than half of the hours of policing services they needed, the report found.

The audit also found that regions with higher front-line officer vacancies resolve fewer crimes.

https://ottawasun.com/news/provincial/o ... tor-report

https://torontosun.com/news/provincial/ ... tor-report

https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2021/1 ... neral.html
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Auditor general says Ontario Provincial Police short 1,000 f

Postby Thomas » Tue Dec 14, 2021 6:16 pm

Auditor general says Ontario Provincial Police short 1,000 front-line officers

1 small town in northeast says OPP service is excellent, but the cost is too high

When you call the Ontario Provincial Police Association, one of the first options on the automated message is to report a staffing shortage.

The union for 10,000 officers and civilian employees, including some 1,500 in the north, has been collecting data on staffing shortages for years and wasn't surprised when the auditor general found the police force is short 1,000 front-line officers.

"That's one of the issues we've had with the employer: 'You can't staff for the what ifs,'" said Rob Stinson, president of the police association.

"Well you have to staff for the what ifs. I see the firehall doesn't say, 'We haven't a fire on a Tuesday in a while, so we don't need firefighters on a Tuesday.'"

Ontario's auditor general also found OPP spending has risen 26 per cent since 2012, but its contingent of officers has dropped by nine per cent and the hours police spend on patrol are down 48 per cent.

"No matter what happens, no matter what goes on," said Bill Dickson, the acting manager of media relations for the OPP, "if you call 911 and you need a police officer right now, we will have officers responding to that call."

Dickson said the police force doesn't reveal figures by detachment because "we don't want bad guys to know where we are or where we are not short," but in general, the 13 OPP detachments of the northeast are in good shape compared to other parts of the province.

"We're short by about 30 constables right now, six sergeants, a staff sergeant and one inspector," he said.

"That's where we are short in all of northeast region. So spread that out among all the detachments and it really isn't that bad a picture."

Dickson said the OPP is trying to improve response times, using new technology to have officers from neighbouring towns respond to high-priority calls, and is searching for new ways to recruit new officers.

"It's a challenge no matter where you are," he said.

"Policing may not be as attractive a career as it used to be."

Stinson said the association would like to see the OPP take a similar approach to the Northern Ontario School of Medicine and look for new recruits in the north.

"The old theory was a member would get hired from Toronto, go up north, stay there for a year and a half, two years, and as soon as they had an opportunity, vacate the north."

The auditor also found a third of all front-line vacancies are officers off on long-term medical leave, which Stinson says worsened because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"A normal stressful work environment has added that much more stress and that's why some of our members are finally at the point where they're getting burnt out," he said.

"They won't let their partner run short or the other shift run short, so they feel compelled they have to come in and work overtime and now they're exhausted and at a breaking point."

Cochrane Mayor Denis Clement said he hasn't heard of office shortages causing problems with his town's OPP detachment.

But he isn't happy the municipal policing bill for the town of 5,300 is $1.4 milllion for the coming year.

"Yes the bill is expensive, but the service is also excellent," Clement said.

"Our feeling is the province should probably pay 100 per cent of the costs, but that's the model and we deal with it."

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/sudbury/ ... -1.6280692
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