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Toronto police chief tries to allay concerns with internal memo after officer complaints

Toronto Police chief says officer concerns about staffing will be addressed as the force moves to a new policing model, according to an internal memo obtained by CBC Toronto.

'I want you to know that you — the members — are my priority every day,' chief says

Toronto Police chief Mark Saunders responded to recent CBC Toronto report on staffing at TPS in an internal memo. (Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press)

Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders says officer concerns about staffing will be addressed as the force moves to a new policing model, according to an internal memo obtained by CBC Toronto. 

"I am aware that some of you are concerned about this and I understand that moving from the old policing model to a new model is not easy," the chief wrote in the memo. 

Toronto Police chief Mark Saunders sent an internal memo to staff on Friday. (CBC Toronto)

"I want you to know that you — the members — are my priority every day."

The memo comes in response to an email obtained by CBC Toronto in which a 55 Division officer described feeling unsafe at work. 

The officer wrote that he was the only car on patrol on a Tuesday afternoon earlier this month, with one road sergeant available for backup. During the shift he had five pending calls, including a sexual assault, an arrest involving three people, and a domestic assault, he said.

In an internal email, a police officer says they feel unsafe at work due to staffing. (Amanda Grant/CBC)

But the chief says that information is not correct.

According to the internal memo, while the officer may have been the only cop on parade, there were 15 officers total on the road in his district. 

Saunders says that staff sergeants "have the responsibility to utilize the resources that are available" and that in the case of the 55 Division officer the escalation "did not take place." 

The Toronto Police Association says the email from the 55 Division officer is not unique, and that there are similar examples across the Toronto Police Service. 

"We are past burning out, we are burned out," TPA president Mike McCormack said. 

McCormack says there need to be more officers on the road, something the chief says he's open to, according to the memo. 

"I [am] interested in hiring more than the recently announced 80 recruits however, that number would be determined through proper research and data analytics," the chief wrote. 

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