Toronto police can make deeper budget cuts, new report says

Policing in Toronto can be delivered more efficiently for less money but long-term reforms are necessary to achieve the desired savings, according to a report commissioned by the Toronto Police Services Board.

KPMG suggests short-term cuts and long-term reform for both TPS and police services board

Just weeks after Chief Mark Saunders presented a proposed budget to the Toronto Police Services Board topping $1 billion, an independent audit released Thursday suggests there are deeper cuts that can be made. (Darren Calabrese/Canadian Press)

Policing in Toronto can be delivered in a more "proactive," "community-centric," and "sustainable" way for less money, according to a report commissioned by the Toronto Police Services Board and released on Thursday.

But the professional services and auditing firm that wrote the report, KPMG, says long-term reforms are necessary to get the desired savings.

The report calls on both the board and the TPS to consider a range of measures in the short, medium and long term to reduce costs and deliver services more efficiently, such as shifting the "staffing mix" toward more civilians and fewer officers, modernizing IT, as well as "further outsourcing all or select components of HR, IT and finance functions." 

In the short term, KPMG is suggesting TPS and the board consider:

  •  a temporary halt to promotions, and overtime pay for officers
  •  a "moratorium" on capital spending and long-term IT projects.

In the medium and long term, the report suggests:

  • consolidation of divisions and establishment of strategic hubs to deploy officers more effectively.
  • a review of "shift scheduling practices to create more organizational flexibility and optimally match officers and staff to demand."
  • reducing the "number of required vehicles by moving towards a more community-based operating model with more officers out of cars."

'Review of the review'

The board commissioned the report for $300,000 back in January 2014, asking KPMG to essentially perform a "review of the review" after Bill Blair presented the results of his Chief's Internal Organizational Review (CIOR).

Some members of the board expressed concern at the time that the CIOR didn't go far enough to find the savings the city demanded in 2010, which amounted to a 10 per cent cut in the police budget over four years. 

The KPMG report is critical of the CIOR, saying among other things that some of its findings had an "unclear analytical basis," that "gaps exist in information provided," that some CIOR projects were "incomplete for unknown reasons," and that there was an opportunity "for greater identification of cost savings" in the TPS budget.

The controversy over rising policing costs that led in part to the board's refusal to renew Blair's contract earlier this year recently came to a head again. 

The proposed budget for 2016 presented last month to the board by Blair's successor, Chief Mark Saunders, tops the $1 billion mark for the first time in TPS history.

But the KPMG report also suggests the board is in need of reform, recommending structural changes to "strengthen governance structure and operations … to enhance Board's accountability and oversight functions."

It calls for "a renewed vision and strategic plan which is informed by community priorities and provides a clear roadmap for transformation."

The report will be presented to the board for consideration at its next meeting on Dec. 17. 


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