Toronto

Police association head worried about cuts

Cutting more than 1,000 police officers and civilian workers from the Toronto police force would severely impact the level of service delivered to the city, the head of the police association said.

Cutting more than 1,000 police officers and civilian workers from the Toronto police force would severely impact the level of service delivered to the city, the head of the police association said.

CBC News confirmed Monday that Chief Bill Blair presented a confidential report to the Toronto police services board last week. The report said as many as 750 police officers and 400 civilian officers would have to be laid off to save some $84 million, or eight per cent. 

However, the board, which approves budgets, appoints the chief and helps determine police priorities,  voted not to receive his findings.

The cuts were suggested as a response to Mayor Rob Ford's aggressive bid to pare down the city's $774-million budget shortfall.

Mike McCormack, president of the Toronto Police Association, said he has only seen the numbers in various news articles and has not been notified of how many of his members could be affected.

"The Toronto Police Association has not been approached in any formal way to have any discussions about layoffs or budget cuts with the Toronto Police Service board or the chief or command of the mayor's office," he said.

However, he said that the numbers represent a reduction of about 20 per cent of the current workforce, which he said was disturbing.

"Based on the numbers that were reported, when you're talking about a 20 per cent reduction in the staffing at the Toronto Police Service, those numbers cause some serious concerns," he said.

"I believe they would impact the delivery of services when we start talking about thousands of people and the safety of our police officers and the safety of the community."

McCormack said he was willing to work with the various bodies on the budget concerns, but vowed that he would not "jeopardize public safety and officer safety to achieve an economic number."

Operating budget

Policing costs account for a significant portion of the city's operating budget. The proposed 2012 police operating budget currently stands at $969.7 million. For 2011, it's $914.9 million.

There are currently 5,598 Toronto police officers and 2,068 full-time civilian staff. McCormack said the force stands to lose some 250 officers and another 50 civilians by the end of 2012 through attrition.

Ford told one television station last week that no decisions have been made, but everything is on the table.

"If there's waste in the police department, fire department, any departments we're going to try to find that waste," he said.

"But at the end of the day it's the councillors who are going to say, 'Do we eliminate police officers?' In my personal opinion, no. I want to protect our police. I want to support our police."

Ford said reducing the numbers of police is "at the bottom of the list."