The union representing Toronto’s front line police officers says reductions to the police budget will have a noticeable impact on public safety.
On Tuesday, the City released its preliminary 2017 budget, which proposes a $4.4 million cut to annual police spending. Also included in the report are increases to property taxes and investment in public transit.
Mike McCormack, the president of the Toronto Police Association (TPA) warned that crime will rise as Toronto’s population increases.
“We have huge sporting events, (and Toronto is) a destination city,” McCormack said. “That’s a huge demand on police resources. There is clear evidence that properly deployed police officers have an impact on crime prevention.”
McCormack also pointed to the emotional strain on police and fatigue due to long hours and response to calls.
“When (police) come to work, they look at a screen with (many) pending calls,” he said. “It’s reactive policing and there is no time for recovery; it leads to burnout and PTSD. I am concerned about officer safety.”
Coun. Gord Perks (Ward 14, Parkdale-High Park) said money allocated to the police budget would be better spent elsewhere. He pointed to the fact that this is the first time since amalgamation that the police budget did not increase.
“Our expenditures continue to increase and our revenue cannot keep up,” he said. “We are borrowing from our future to maintain services.”
Perks added that police spending should not be linked to increasing population. Instead, he said, it should be correlated to crime rates.
“Crime in the city is decreasing and the (budget) correlation should be between policing and crime,” he said.
Mike McCormack said the TPA will consult the City and the public on needs for increased police services, with a priority on community policing.
Perks said the budget is still in its early days, and Toronto City Council will debate and make amendments until the vote in February.