Council votes to review paid duty policing, without Rob Ford's support

Toronto city council voted to review the system requiring Toronto paid duty police officers to be hired to watch over construction sites, movie shoots and street festivals.

Mayor and brother dissent from council consensus on paid duty review

A Toronto police officer, left, works a paid duty assignment at a construction site on Spadina Avenue. (CBC)

Toronto City Council voted to review the system requiring paid duty police officers to be hired to watch over construction sites, movie shoots and street festivals. The vote would have been unanimous, if not for two votes by Mayor Rob Ford and his brother.

The officers get $68 an hour to perform the work outside of their regular hours.    

"It's certainly not fair to organizers of festivals and special events," said Coun. Josh Matlow. "It's also a huge waste of tax dollars for public projects."

Matlow made the motion to look at hiring peace officers for security instead of police — who work for $30 an hour. He said this is what Vancouver is already doing.

"This has gone on long enough," he said. "We need to take a stand. We need to push back. We need to tell the police we want them to look at the Vancouver model."

The councillor has some support for the review of paid duty. Coun. Michael Thompson, who is on the the Toronto Police Services Board, agrees.

"They're highly skilled individuals just standing and just watching, and I think that most of our residents see that and don't believe that's effective use of police time," said Thompson. 

"I have pictures of police officers guarding sidewalks while the rest of us walk out in the traffic."

The officers must get paid a minimum of four hours, whether they work it or not.

Former board member Coun. Pam McConnell told council police are reluctant to give up the lucrative employment. She said paid duty is "off the table" for most police officers.

The idea to review paid duty officers has some opposition however, namely the Fords. The mayor and his brother were the only two council members who voted against the motion.

"I believe it's up to the police to decide, it's not up to city council," said Coun. Doug Ford after the vote. "We can't stick our hands in every single department here."

The mayor said it was "taking a shot at police officers" who just want to make some overtime money.

"I support our front-line officers," said the mayor.

Council will ask the Toronto Police Services Board and the city manager to report back early next year.

With files from the CBC's Jasmin Seputis