Police overtime costs during the busy Ponoka Stampede week this year cost $36,000.
Ponoka RCMP Staff Sgt. Cameron Chisholm gave town councillors information on how those costs are calculated during council’s Sept. 9 regular meeting.
“Some of those shifts were attributable to manpower shortages…there were other vacancies prior to that week,” he explained.
He suggested staff shortages accounted for approximately $3,000 to $4,000 in overtime costs. Some of the guard costs also racked up the bill at about $4,200 as Chisholm needed guards around the clock with the number of prisoners Ponoka RCMP arrested.
Other costs not directly attributable to Stampede week are harder to measure. Chisholm said work such as court appearances because of charges laid during the week go on for some time after.
Mayor Rick Bonnett suggested increased activity is to be expected because of the influx of people into town. He suggests the number of people bringing in money more than offsets those costs.
RCMP tied a recent prisoner record this year at 154 prisoners. Some of those prisoners were seen more than once during the week. Chisholm says there are approximately 800 prisoners that go through the detachment each year.
Coun. Marc Yaworski asked where these culprits are arrested. Chisholm replied most people are in the downtown core with a small percentage from the Stampede Grounds.
“I picked up three people in the CIBC lobby passed out on the floor,” he said.
The detachment is seeing some staff shortages and overtime costs are going to arise but Chisholm said the town is not responsible for those costs if there is not enough staff.
He says if a person is sick for more than 30 days or is transferred to another detachment, the town does not pay the overtime costs to cover those hours. Other overtime costs can occur in cases where a specialist is needed — such as a Breathalyzer technician — or for statutory holiday work or for court time on a member’s day off.
The Ponoka Stampede and Exhibition Association pays the town for half of the overtime costs during Stampede week.
Chisholm was at the meeting as part of his quarterly meeting with the town and no decisions were made.
Chisholm questions reader’s opinion in Ponoka News
Chisholm took some issue with a letter to the editor in Ponoka News by Wes Jacobsen July 9.
“That person needs to realize there’s a thing called workload,” stated Chisholm.
He says with 800 prisoners a year in Ponoka compared to 300 a year in Lacombe, the difference is like comparing apples to oranges.
“That letter to the editor certainly didn’t take in a full analysis of policing business in this town,” said Chisholm.
Loud vehicles also give the impression that vehicles are traveling faster than they actually are, he added. He did say police are working to tackle speeding issues in problem areas.