Metro Morning

Divisions understaffed, morale at 'all-time low': Toronto police union head

Mike McCormack slams 'broken staffing model' following Transformational Task Force report

Mike McCormack

Toronto Police Association President Mike McCormack says frontline officers were left out of the process when the force's new action plan was developed. (John Rieti/CBC)

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Toronto Police Association President Mike McCormack said police divisions are understaffed and morale within the force is at an "all-time low" following the release of the Transformational Task Force's report in January.

According to the report, the force is turning to technology to guide its massive modernization effort, while bolstering its human resources in an effort to change policing culture in this city.

But in an interview with Metro Morning on Monday, McCormack slammed what he sees as a "broken staffing model" and said the long-term plan doesn't address the challenges facing officers in 2017.

"What they did is they stopped hiring and stopped staffing the model we have today... it's burning our officers out," McCormack said.

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Toronto Police Association President Mike McCormack says police divisions are understaffed and lack resources like cars. (Genevieve Tomney/CBC)

The situation is causing a "mass exodus to other police services," he added. "In one division... they've lost four officers in the last eight weeks."

McCormack pins the low morale and "high level of stress" facing officers on a heavy workload and lack of staff. 

"We're putting out, in some divisions, two to three cars," he said. "That's four to six police officers for an entire shift."

More officers 'not the way to go': Saunders

But when speaking to Metro Morning's Matt Galloway in January, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said more officers "is not the way to go" when it comes to modernizing the service. 

His comments came a day after the Transformational Task Force released the action plan on how to bring the force into the 21st century.

Toronto Mark Saunders profile

Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders says more officers "is not the way to go" when it comes to modernizing the service. (Cole Burston/The Canadian Press)

During the interview, Saunders noted that in 2009, the service had 508 more officers on the street than it did last year — yet violent crime was higher.

McCormack and Saunders are meeting to discuss staffing issues this week.