Toronto police union head blames spike in shootings on lack of resources
Mike McCormack says 400 fewer officers means police have less time to be proactive
The spate of shootings in the GTA over the last few days has many Torontonians asking, "What's going on?"
The president of the Toronto Police Association believes he has the answer.
Mike McCormack attributes the wave of violence to a lack of police resources.
"What we've seen over the past six years is a depletion of our frontline officers, we've seen our strength go down from 5,600 officers to 5,200 officers," McCormack told CBC News' Dwight Drummond Wednesday.
"When our frontline officers come in to report for a shift they're going from radio call to radio call. Oftentimes there's 25 to 50 calls backlogged and by the end of their shift they're 14 calls backlogged so all they're doing is reactive policing."
According to statistics gathered by police, the number of shootings involving injury or death has increased by 60 per cent when compared to last year. And the number of shootings that involved only injuries jumped 86.6 per cent.
McCormack cited the controversial practice of carding as an example of proactive policing.
"We don't support any type of bias or random or arbitrary stops," he said. "But we do support legitimate intelligence gathering based on information and investigative techniques.
"Being an investigator and having used those intelligence reports, they are fundamental in keeping safe communities and solving crimes," McCormack said.
Several hundred fewer officers
Mark Pugash, director of corporate police communications, agreed with McCormack that the force has several hundred fewer officers than it had five years ago,
But, he told CBC News, "we have the ability to bring resources in from elsewhere around the city to an area that has been hit with a number of violent occurrences.
"What we do is devote whatever resources are necessary to these investigations," Pugash added. "We have some of the most gifted homicide investigators in the country."
He explained that police notice a spike in homicides several times a year, a trend he says stretches back 15 or 20 years.
"Every single one is concerning," he said. "Every time someone uses a gun. it's concerning. Every time someone is killed, it's concerning."
Pugash was critical of Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti's suggestion that the federal government should send in the military to help fight violent crime in the city.
"You don't reach conclusions on what life in the city is like based on the events of the last three days," Pugash said. "We work very hard tackling violence, any indications of violence, and trying to prevent violence where we can."