Did they or didn’t they? Although it is denied, records obtained by the Bay Observer suggest the Hamilton Police Services may have overcharged the Province for Pan-Am policing by almost double the amount allowed under the agreement between the city and the Games organizers– this according to documents obtained under Freedom of Information legislation by Hamilton police watchdog and former City of Hamilton accountant, Shekar Chandrashekar. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services confirmed to the Bay Observer that Hamilton had submitted a bill for approximately $2.7 Million for policing the Pan Am Games in Hamilton, and that after some minor adjustments a cheque was issued for $2,753,597. Police Services accounting records obtained under Freedom of Information by Mr. Chandrashekar show actual out of pocket expenses incurred by the Police Service were a little over $1.4 Million. In a note to the Bay Observer confirming the provincial payment, Ministry spokesperson Brent Ross wrote, “it is important to note that under these agreements, only actual expenditures incurred for games-related security costs that are consistent with the budget outlined in the agreement and supported by detailed invoices submitted to the Ministry, were eligible for reimbursement.” Mr. Ross declined to provide the Bay Observer with the actual itemized invoice submitted by Hamilton Police Services, citing concerns over confidentiality around specific personnel, but Matthew Torigian, Deputy Minister Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services says the matter is under review. In addition Chandrashekar reported the matter to the Auditor General’s office who wrote in reply, “we would encourage you to submit to us any additional information that you have indicating the costs reported to PwC were in excess of the ones actually incurred/reported by the Hamilton Police Services Board.” The Bay Observer has approached the HPS for clarification on the actual amount of out-of-pocket expenses and were told that the documents that were obtained under FOI did not include all out-of-pocket expenses, but has been unsuccessful in getting an actual final figure. However, in a published report in June Police board chair Lloyd Ferguson publicly stated the PSB had made money on the deal saying close to $2.4 million of the surplus came from Pan Am policing dollars. “We were fortunate through various cost-saving efforts to be able to hang on to some of it.” Last week Clr. Ferguson admitted there was a windfall in an interview with the Bay Observer saying it was made possible when former Chief Glenn DeCaire cancelled holidays during the games, thus alleviating the need to pay for off-duty policing. Mr. Chandrashekar told the Bay Observer he canvassed other Police Services Boards in the GTA and was told they submitted claims for actual out-of-pocket expenses only.
Shekar Chandrashekar, a retired City of Hamilton Finance employee, has been campaigning for greater transparency in Police accounting for several years. He was successful in persuading Hamilton City Council to order a separate audit of police accounting records, ending the previous practice of having the police audit lumped in with the City of Hamilton annual audit. Police had resisted the audit, suggesting it would be too costly at $250,000; but it was later determined that the separate audit would entail less than $20,000 in fees. A separate police audit, in theory at least, would allow for more detailed scrutiny of police accounting, although the most recent audit failed to turn up the apparent discrepancy in the Pam Am policing payout. In previous examinations of the Police Service books Chandrashekar expressed concerns about other cash reserve accounts accumulating on the books for items like retirement and holiday pay that were apparently not being used for those purposes. Instead holiday and vacation entitlements were being met through the regular budget.
With regard to the Pan Am discrepancy, Chandrashekar alerted the Hamilton Police Services Board last September and again in December, writing, “In November, 2015 I tried to resolve this issue with Hamilton Police Services accountants but without success.” The suggestion of overcharging the Pan Am Games for policing provoked a testy reply from former Chief Glenn DeCaire who wrote, “I must reject any notion in your correspondence of applying Pan Am funding to offset overall police expenditures. The revenues of Pan Am are charged directly against the expenses of Pan Am. These matters are properly recorded, budgeted, charged and reported to the Board.”
Undeterred, Chandrashekar raised the matter with the Hamilton General Issues Committee in February, but again no action was taken.
At the root of the accumulation of surplus funds is the Police Service’s attempts to find funding for a new forensic lab which, it was revealed last week could cost in excess of $24 Million. Senior governments have shown reluctance to share in the funding of the building, and at a council meeting earlier this month it was proposed that the 2015 police budget surplus of $3.6 Million, in part consisting of the Pan Am surplus, could be tapped to help pay for the project. Councillor Matthew Green has opposed the plan, arguing that the surplus should be used to offset future police budget overruns. Even if the $3.6 Million were to be set aside for the project, on top of a $5 Million building fund the Police Services already has on hand there remains a $15 Million shortfall which no senior level of government appears willing to support. Ferguson argues that the current 40 year old police building, designed and built in a pre-DNA world is inadequate to store evidence. “We have to keep up with the trends in evidence collection and storage,” he told the Bay Observer.
Still, the need for new facilities, justified as it may be, does not address the optics of a law enforcement agency submitting an account for payment that may not reflect actual costs.

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