Alternative traffic enforcement explored
Mulmur council is asking the Solicitor General of Ontario to consider allowing municipalities to hire special constables for traffic enforcement as a way of enhancing police services at a more affordable cost.
Council passed a motion Sept. 4 asking that special constables be given status by the Ministry to assist Municipalities with enforcement matters under The Highway Traffic Act on local roads.
Mulmur council member Ken Cufaro, a retired police officer, spearheaded this initiative as a way for Mulmur to get enhanced services at a reduced cost.
“We’ve been to the OPP to talk about getting additional officers to do traffic enforcement but the response is that we would have to hire a full-time officer through their enhancement program, in other words, you’d have to pay for a full-time officer at about $160,000 a year to do traffic but if that officer gets called out on another call, they’re not going to be able to do traffic enforcement so we’re basically back to square one,” he said.
Mulmur has been looking for other ways of enforcing traffic rules, especially when there is added traffic on the roads, increasing speed and noise complaints.
“Under the police service act there is a provision to allow a police services board to hire a special constable but the solicitor general has to allow it to happen,” said Cufaro. “They would have to create a special constable to do strictly traffic enforcement.”
The specialized officer would have the same authority as a police officer when it comes to traffic enforcement but not the same overall authority, explained Cufaro.
“That to me would be a potential way of municipalities saving a great deal of money and having that specialization – not only in our municipality but across the province,” he said.
Examples of special constables can be seen in courtrooms, on transit services such as TTC and GO, on campuses and other designated areas. They specialize in one specific area of enforcement and unlike a police officer, they have no authority while off duty.
They could be retired police officers or people starting out in their policing careers, who are already trained.
Council has also circulated the motion to AMO and the other municipalities in the province.
“I’m sure they’ll be other municipalities that would be quite interested in getting on board to do the same thing,” said Cufaro. “Mulmur has taken the lead but every municipality in Ontario will benefit from this.”
He said with more provincial cuts coming affecting policing the cost will fall to the municipalities to find more affordable ways to enhance traffic enforcement.
Depending on the outcome the municipality could end up paying a special constable directly and providing a vehicle and equipment, like radar.
“If you look at the overall cost to do that compared to the cost paying an OPP officer $160,000 and have no guarantee that that officer is going to be doing strictly traffic in your municipality… the return is going to be substantially more,” said Cufaro.
He said there is revenue from each ticket issued that goes back to the municipality but it is very little. With special constables, the revenue would be higher to help offset the costs.