City Plans to Tinker With $100 Million Portion of Billion Dollar Police Budget

Update: see previous post – December 11, 2015 Toronto’s Mayor & Police Chief Not Interested in Saving Taxpayer’s Money

Toronto City Hall. Earlier this year, Tory and the seven-member police board signed off on a contract that gives officers wage increases of 2.75 per cent this year, 1.95 per cent next year, 1.9 per cent in 2017 and 1.75 per cent in 2018. That follows two previous contracts that bumped pay in excess of 20 per cent over seven years.
The 2016 Police Budget will exceed a billion dollars. If 90% of the budget is dedicated to the wages/benefits of police officers, then only $100 million of that bloated budget ccould possibly be trimmed. In 2016, a newly formed task force will begin to review a two (2) year old, 2014 KPMG report which pointed out various ways to save money. The Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB) has been delaying any changes which could save money in the annual Toronto Police Budget. Another report, which Ernst & Young released in 2011, was ignored by the TPSB. Photo by fightyourtickets.ca.

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Mayor John Tory vows a newly formed task force will recommend concrete ways to bring about “transformative change” in the city’s $1-billion police force.

“We are committed to making the changes that are necessary to stop the growth in police budgets and to more effectively and efficiently deploy highly trained police officers to fight crime,” said Tory, a member of the Toronto Police Services Board.

On Thursday, three KPMG consultants gave the board an overview of their $200,000 report that proposes numerous kinds of restructurings and strategic plans designed to cut costs.

The board voted to strike a task force to study ways to modernize the police service. It will be jointly chaired by Chief Mark Saunders and board chair Andy Pringle. The latter noted the KPMG report is just the latest in a long line of reports sitting on board shelves.

“Now is the time to bring all this together into really decisive action,” Pringle said.

An interim report will be ready in June, followed by a final report next December.

“I think you will be surprised — (task force members) won’t be the same old suspects. I’m looking for a broad group. This is a tight time frame,” Pringle told the Star after the meeting. The names will be released in the new year.

Pringle said he would even consider asking John Sewell, a former mayor of Toronto and head of a police watchdog group, to sit on the committee.

Sewell submitted a letter to the board urging it not to go down “the convoluted paths recommended by KPMG.” He said the way to spend less money without diminishing police service is “straight forward and have long been known.”

They include changing the shift schedule — to end the four-hour overlaps that occur during each 24-hour period — and scrapping the rule that says there must be two officers in a car after dark.

A 2011 Ernst & Young efficiency report found that $35 million could be cut from the police budget with a simple schedule change. Right now, there are as many officers on duty at 4 a.m. as there are at 7 p.m.

The collective agreement signed this year by the board and Toronto Police Association includes “specific commitments by the police association to discuss the shifts and two officers to a car rule,” Tory said.

It makes no sense to have “expensive, highly trained police officers . . . sitting two in a car watching to see if people turn left.”

Saunders said any decisions made will be “fully examined, fully explored, fully researched.”

“It has to be effective change, it has to be the right change, it has to fit the city of Toronto,” he said. “Let’s look at how we deploy our people, where we put them, why do we put them there, how long do we put them there for.”

Despite fierce opposition in the past, TPA president Mike McCormack said he’s “definitely looking forward to having discussions about the staffing model.”

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