Police Chief Warns of Possible Layoffs in 2013
The Toronto Police Services Board has agreed with a request from the city to hold the line on its 2013 budget, with a warning from the chief that meeting the targets approved, could mean layoffs.
City budget chief Mike Del Grande spoke to the police board, requesting a 0% increase in 2013 (a request that will be made to all city agencies, boards, and commissions), which the board agreed to, and the board also re-affirmed its support to find an additional 5.4% in savings in cuts that were put off in 2012.
The board pledged to meet those targets provide it does not compromise public safety.
Police Chief Bill Blair warned the board committing to those targets means a commitment to layoffs.
"We are looking at every aspect of our organization. Unfortunately 88% of my budget is staffing dollars," he says. "The reductions that were discussed could significantly impact on our ability to meet those reductions to meet that payroll."
Board chair Alok Mukherjee says it's too early to talk about possible layoffs and he's hopefully other savings can be found to avoid layoffs.
"First of all we have to undertake a very thorough (look at) the budget," he says. "As the chief said, there needs to be a line by line reading of the budget and there needs to be a questioning of everything."
Holding firm on the police budget seems to run counter to some recent suggestions from the mayor, who has spoken about possibly lifting the policing hiring freeze to help combat violent crime.
The budget chief isn't so sure tightening the city's purse strings would create a more dangerous city.
"There has yet to be any study anywhere...as to what the right number of police officers are," says Del Grande. "That's why we asked for an independent study to look at the whole structure of the police services."
When the board finalizes it's 2013 budget, Del Grande would also like to see an outlook for 2014. He also wanted to see police get a handle on paid duty costs and overtime, among other improvements.
Blair told the budget chief he'd refuse to authorize paid duty effective immediately if that's something the city wanted to explore as a way of reducing costs.