Coun. Doug Ford is raising objections to the scrutiny being given to the city's practice of hiring off-duty police officers to stand guard at special events or construction sites, a practice that the city's budget chief said has "gotten out of hand."
Ford made the comments at a Tuesday meeting of council's budget committee. The committee was discussing a report authored by auditor general Jeffrey Griffiths that found Toronto could save $2 million if it changes its policies toward so-called paid duty.
"It just seems like we're just pounding away on police here when there's so many other inefficiencies happening all over the city," said Ford, the brother of Mayor Rob Ford, who was voted into council on a promise of fiscal conservatism and accountability.
"It's just ridiculous. We're spending an hour pounding away at this."
But Coun. Mike Del Grande, the city's budget chief, disagreed with Ford.
"When we talk about the police, everything's timid to talk about it. But you know what, right is right and wrong is wrong," he said.
"I think that paid duty's gotten out of hand."
Officers are paid $65 an hour for paid-duty work such as directing traffic at busy construction sites, a rate about double their normal pay rate.
Griffiths estimated the city paid Toronto police officers $7.8 million in paid-duty work in 2009.
One of the main reasons is a bylaw that stipulates that any construction within 30 metres of traffic lights requires a supervising officer.
Del Grande said he would support one of the report's findings calling for the overhaul of those rules so that the city can save some money.
Ford didn't dispute there are inefficiencies in the police services, but said the money spent on police paid duty is a very small percentage of the city's budget as a whole.