Nobody questions the need for upgraded forensic facilities for the Hamilton Police Services, although an offer by Niagara Police to share a facility seemed to get dismissed without much consideration. The current Hamilton set up is antiquated and predates the development of DNA evidence and other 21st century forensics. The financing of the project, however, underscores the need for greater council scrutiny of police budgeting. Part of the financing of the new facility will come from a windfall profit the police earned policing the Pan Am Games—this despite the fact that police services in the GTAH were only supposed to be reimbursed for actual out of pocket expenses. In Hamilton’s case they submitted a budget which the Pan Am people accepted that assumed extensive overtime would be needed; but when the games came the policing was provided without overtime. Nonetheless a bill was submitted for the budgeted amount, not the actual expense. As we mentioned earlier—not the greatest optics for a law enforcement agency. In the meantime the Police have also accumulated some significant cash reserves in the millions of dollars for items like retirement payouts and vacations but which do not appear to ever get tapped. One does not have to be an accountant to come to the conclusion that past police budgets may have had some padding in them. The good news is that council has voted to have the police services audited separately from the city’s books, and in its instructions to its auditors hopefully the city will insist on a harder look at some of these opaque practices.
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