A $200,000 consultant’s report aimed at radically “transforming” Toronto policing and cutting its soaring costs has been buried by the board tasked with oversight, critics say — kept secret from the public who paid for it.
The report, commissioned by former Toronto Police Services Board chair Alok Mukherjee, was meant to be a “roadmap” to reforming a costly policing model that has changed little in the past 50 years.
The KPMG report, submitted a year ago this month, includes contentious recommendations such as closing all 17 police divisions across the city and replacing them with “storefront” operations, sources told the Star. The service estimates it will spend about $20 million in 2016 on operations, custodial and utility costs in the city-owned facilities.
The report also recommends reducing platoon sizes, shrinking middle-management and increasing civilian positions in areas such as forensics or court officers — assigning more work that doesn’t require police training or skills to lower-paid civilian employees, and outsourcing some functions to private security firms.
Current board chair Andy Pringle told the Star the KPMG report hasn’t been released publicly because it was meant to be “an internal think” document. “Random suggestions aren’t necessarily something that we report back on,” he said.
Mukherjee, who stepped down this summer, declined to comment on the report, except to say he intended it to be made public.
While Pringle said he believes the service is “efficient,” the board is actively exploring recommendations in the report.
“In regards to civilianization and stuff like that, we have talked about a number of things,” he said this week. “We’re looking at, is there a way to do some of these things in a different fashion that doesn’t require the highest-level officer.”
Nevertheless, the former vice-chair of the police board, Councillor Michael Thompson, said there is little indication of progress being made — even behind the scenes.
“It’s the same tune that they have been playing. It’s the same bloody melody, and it’s bad music,” said Thompson, who backed the KPMG study during his term.
“I think that it’s out of whack and it’s going to continue to be out of whack, and all the excuses in the world will be given to the public and they’ll continue to buy it.”
Thompson believes it will be a case of déjà vu when the board meets next Thursday to approve an increase to the police budget.
Police Chief Mark Saunders is expected to say he can’t meet the board’s target for a one per cent budget reduction. Last month, the service presented the board with a proposal for a 2016 operating budget of $1.015 billion — a 3.69 per cent increase over last year.
Tory and the board asked police number-crunchers for a revised spending forecast, though the board had itself contributed to the problem by agreeing to a contract settlement that boosted wages by 2.2 per cent this year.
Originally approved by the board in January 2014, the KPMG report was meant as a review of then-chief Bill Blair’s own organizational review, which identified virtually no savings despite taking two years to complete and costing taxpayers more than $1 million.
According to a draft presentation by KPMG, presented to board members and seen by the Star, Blair’s own review cost $1.123 million, while potential future annualized savings were identified to be about $3.8 million. KPMG’s consultants also warned that the police service’s push for a growing complement of officers “may continue to prevent the realization of material . . . savings.”
A source with knowledge of the report said those conclusions showed the chief’s review amounted to “moving some chairs from here to there.”
Instead, KPMG suggested rethinking the 17-division model and putting more officers back on the street to engage in neighborhood policing. It involved reducing platoon sizes and eliminating higher-paid middle managers, according to a source.
In looking at outsourcing uniform roles to civilians or private companies, KPMG considered criminologists, forensics, paid duty, court officers and parking enforcement.
A city hall source said problems implementing the KPMG report stem from a “dysfunctional” board and fear of the police union’s power of public persuasion.
“There was a lot of pressure being put on board members by the senior police leadership to suggest that somehow the consultants’ report really didn’t address the needs of Toronto police, which is a lot of basic nonsense,” Thompson said.
“We had a chance, and it’s been blown.”
Before he stepped down as chair, Mukherjee highlighted the KPMG report as unfinished business.
“Implementation of those recommendations is probably the most important thing the board needs to do,” he said. “This is a legacy piece, on the part of the board and the city, to now put in place a new model.”