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'Hard time recruiting': South Simcoe police needs more officers

'Unfortunately, with not enough candidates in the system, all the police services are stealing from each other,' says police chief

If you’re interested in policing, the South Simcoe police might be looking for you.

On Wednesday, Police Chief John Van Dyke presented the annual report to the police services board, summarizing police activities for the year including a breakdown of operations and a brief overview of the police budget for 2022 for Bradford West Gwillimbury and Innisfil.

The total expenditures for the service were $22,620,476, including $19,721,662 for salaries and benefits and $2,898,814 for other expenditures.

The total revenue was $555,125, including $363,425 in grants and recoveries and $191,700 in other revenue.

This left the required municipal funding at $22,065,351.

Van Dyke explained the service is running a surplus due to unfilled positions.

“We’re having a hard time recruiting candidates into policing. We have unfilled positions in our organization and that’s something we never had in the past,” said Van Dyke.

Board chair Chris Gariepy emphasized that about 90 per cent of the service’s costs are wages and benefits.

“We’re running as lean as we possibly can and trying to ensure community safety. What we do need — and has been approved — is more officers on the road, but it’s difficult right now getting people to apply,” he said.

Both Van Dyke and Gariepy said they welcome the provincial government’s recent decisions to remove barriers to entry for candidates coming into policing, including eliminating tuition fees for the 12-week Basic Constable Training program at the Ontario Police College (OPC), and eliminating post-secondary requirements to attend the program.

In 2022, the service hired nine new officers and two civilian support staff, bringing the total to 102 officers and 47 civilians.

“I can’t emphasize to the board how much work that is to hire all of these people," the chief said. "It is a massive amount of work. We have to have good people here. We can’t afford to have bad apples that either create problems for us internally or specifically externally."

Board member and Bradford Mayor James Leduc said he believed the budget took the right approach.

“It’s wage-orientated, that budget. When you actually look at it, 89 per cent of that budget is actually police, it’s people, that’s a critical point. I think that’s an excellent thing for residents to look at,” he said.

Board member and Innisfil Mayor Lynn Dollin also felt the expense was justified.

“Police services, no matter where you are in this country, are a big-ticket item for municipalities, but I really do think that we get our money’s worth from South Simcoe police,” she said.

Last year, the service was able to engage in 1,096 hours of training spread across different types, such as OPC, re-qualifications, auxiliary, special constable, and more.

The auxiliary unit made local history as the first all-female class in the service, and the service entered into a partnership with the bachelor of police studies degree program at Georgian College. Of the nine auxiliary constables to enter into the program, one has retired, one has become a special constable and the rest are still active.

“A lot of them have now finished their degrees, and we are starting a recruiting process in the very near future and encouraging them to apply,” said Van Dyke, but he also cautioned that some may be enticed by other services. “Unfortunately, with not enough candidates in the system, all the police services are stealing from each other."

As the restrictions of the pandemic eased in 2022, the service saw a return to community engagement with events including the Police Week Open House, Bicycle Safety Rodeo, fraud presentations to seniors, Senior’s Police Academy and Christmas Toy and Food Drive. Members also participated in Bradford’s Coldest Night of the Year event.

“I think what I want residents to know is that we are committed to community engagement, and one of our major focuses is our community ... and breaking down barriers to ensure that we have a positive relationship, and maintain that important community trust,” Van Dyke said.

Leduc was impressed with the focus on community.

“I think the report itself was excellent and it shows the good work police do. Policing gets a bad rap a lot of the times and I think it shows the work officers do to be more community based,” he said.

Dollin praised the chief and the service for their efforts to engage with residents post-pandemic.

“I’m really grateful that we’re past COVID and we can start connecting again, because I think one of the great things about South Simcoe police is the proactive interaction they have with the community, and that hasn’t been able to happen during COVID,” she said.

In 2022, the auxiliary unit contributed slightly more than 4,000 hours which is less than usual as the unit didn’t start operating until May, due to pandemic restrictions. However, Van Dyke expects the unit to be more active in 2023.

“A big focus of our service is to be in the community,” he said.

Police also received 10 complaints from the public about the service. Of those, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director, screened out five, and continued with the other five. From those, two were resolved and three were unsubstantiated.

Last year, one member received an award for 30 years of service, three members received awards for 20 years of service, and six members were honoured at the Ontario Women in Law Enforcement Gala.

In addition, more than two dozen members and citizens received awards for Excellence in Traffic Safety, Excellence in Emergency Response/Life Saving, Excellence in Investigation, Excellence in Innovation, and auxiliary officer awards.

At the meeting Insp. Henry Geoffroy also presented an update comparing April 2023 with April 2022 showing an increase in the number of calls for service of about 20 per cent, which he said was not surprising post-pandemic.

“I have spoken to some of my cohorts in other police services and regions and they’re seeing similar trends although their ratios are different depending on their makeup,” he said.

Traffic calls for service in particular increased, but Geoffroy explained that was to be expected following a consistent trend of increased travel post-pandemic as well as based on increased population.

“They’re the number one complaint this month like they have been all year, like they have been in past years. There’s no anomalies in the trends of the complaints. The trend of increase is consistent,” he said.

April 2023 also saw an increase in the number of officers able to participate in training programs, many of which were delayed or unavailable due to the pandemic.

Those training programs include:

  • General investigators course — 10 officers
  • Search and rescue course — three officers
  • SFSD standard field sobriety testing — four officers
  • Collision reconstruction course — two officers
  • Breathalyzer technicians — a few officers
  • Incident command course — 200 officers

“That was a lot of courses in April. It was nice to see that we can actually get our officers trained and updated because there’s been a backlog,” said Geoffroy.

Budget (2022)

  • Salaries and benefits $19,721,662
  • Other Operating expenditures: $2,898,814
  • Total expenditures: $22,620,476
  • Revenue: 191,700
  • Grants and Recoveries: 363,425
  • Total Revenue: 555,125
  • Municipal Funding Required: 22,165,551

Police Operations (2022)

  • 155 employees
  • 102 constables
  • 47 civilians
  • 6 part-time staff


  • 41,955 total calls
  • 24,688 calls for services
  • 7,576 911 calls
  • 1,430 911 misdials
  • 1,343 991 calls transferred to other services

Court Services

  • 834 bail hearing
  • 3,500 plus Part I Tickets
  • 2834.75 security hours
  • 34 transport hours
  • 349 prisoners

Forensic Identification Unit

  • 567 criminal fingerprints
  • 36 DNA orders completed
  • 806 tasks/calls completed

Information Services and Front Desk Units

  • 4,550 Police Record Checks
  • 240 Freedom of Information Requests
  • 8,979 Front Counter Inquiries

Canine unit

  • 84 calls for canine services

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Michael Owen

About the Author: Michael Owen

Michael Owen has worked in news since 2009 and most recently joined Village Media in 2023 as a general assignment reporter for BradfordToday
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