With city council approving the hiring of an additional 10 police officers and two civilian staff members during 2023 budget deliberations, Greater Sudbury Police Service is now hiring.
An update was provided during this week’s Police Service Board meeting, at which the new authorized sworn staffing complement was first posted at 282, alongside a new civilian staffing level of 142.
Following the meeting, Chief Paul Pedersen told local media that policing is a competitive field, and that getting new recruits up to snuff doesn’t take place overnight.
“It's about 16 months from the point of hire, through training, before those people are able to drive a police car,” he said, adding they’re initially hired as cadetes. As cadets, they undertake three weeks of training before going off to Ontario Police College for 13 weeks of basic training.
“If they pass Police College, they get sworn in as constables and through their initial training, and they work with a coach officer for a number of months and after a probationary period they're out on their own and serving the community.
The 10 new hires have been divided into two equal groups in June and September due to constraints at both GSPS and the Ontario Police College.
Although the boost in staffing is intended to create a dedicated four-member homicide unit and two additional members for their drug enforcement unit, Pedersen said these additions will not be immediate.
“We're still evaluating whether we're able to do it with this existing staff, but anything we do with the existing staff has an impact on our ability to do other investigations other than homicides,” he said, noting that it’s likely to be several months down the road, when new staff are fully integrated, until they can look at creating the new unit.
Included in this year's staffing boost are two special constables to work the front desk at police headquarters, which will free sworn members currently occupying these jobs to the front line. These civilian positions are already occupied.
The 10-member boost in sworn police officers is planned to be accompanied by an additional two in 2024 and four in 2025, yielding a total of 24.
“We're seeing the impacts of mental health and wellness on our people, (and) we are not able to deploy as many people as we used to in the past for legitimate injuries of the mind,” Pedersen said of the staffing boost, adding that the changing nature of police work has ensured a “depletion of deployable people.”
“The only way of addressing some of this is through resources,” he said. “Automatic licence plate readers aren't going to do foot patrol.”
The total cost associated with the 24 new sworn members will be $2.45 million in 2025, averaging approximately $102,000 per member.
Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.