Mayor announces task force to modernize Toronto police, cut costs

The Toronto Police Services Board announced a new task force Tuesday that will be aimed at transforming policing in the city, including containing costs, modernizing operations and fostering public trust, days after a reform-minded deputy chief resigned from the force.

Six civilians, six officers to make first round of recommendations by June

A Toronto police officer directs traffic in downtown Toronto as commuters line up for emergency bus service. ((Dwight Friesen/CBC))

A new task force aimed at transforming policing in the city, including containing costs, modernizing operations and fostering public trust has been announced, days after a reform-minded deputy chief resigned from the force.

Mayor John Tory announced the Transformation Task Force in a letter emailed to councillors and other city staff late Tuesday morning.

The task force will be made up of six civilians and six officers from across the Toronto Police Service, the letter says.

It is expected to bring forward recommendations on "cost containment, modernizing operations, producing real and sustainable reductions to the budget and building public trust" by June.

A "full implementation plan" is to be delivered by the end of this year, the letter says.

Toronto Police Services Board chair Andy Pringle will be on the task force, as well as:

  • Former Toronto auditor general Jeffery Griffiths
  • Former city budget chief David Soknacki
  • Long-time city activist Ken Jeffers
  • Trillium Health Partners CEO and change management expert Michelle E. DiEmanuele
  • CivicAction CEO Sevaun Palvetzian

"This is a necessary step towards containing the cost of the TPS budget, and providing modern and efficient policing in Toronto," Mayor Tory's letter says.

"I will be working closely with Chief (Mark) Saunders to make sure this group has the buy-in and support to produce meaningful change."

The task force comes less than a week after deputy chief Peter Sloly resigned from the force not long after criticizing the current state of police operations and budgeting.

On January 15, Sloly told attendees at an event at the MaRS Discovery District that policing will be "exponentially costly" until it stops "being focused and driven on that reactive enforcement model."

Sloly also said the force could "drop ourselves by several hundred police officers, which represents tens of millions of dollars" by leveraging technology and "big data," the Toronto Star reported.

Sloly later said he was surprised by criticism of his comments, particularly from Toronto Police Association President Mike McCormack, saying that the issues he raised were topics of discussion among police brass for more than a decade.

In a separate letter to councillors on Tuesday, Pringle and Saunders said the Toronto Police Service is working on containing policing costs and modernizing the force, "not only because we need to keep costs down, but also because we need to enhance and maintain public trust and police legitimacy."

They confirmed the June deadline for the task force's recommendations and the end-of-year deadline for a full implementation plan.

Their letter noted, however, that some of that work is already underway, including cost-cutting measures such as "civilianizing" more than 150 uniform positions and exploring shared procurement opportunities with other city agencies. 


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