Toronto Police Board Unanimously Approves Larger Operating Budget by 2022 – Toronto | The Canadian News

Acting Police Chief James Ramer explained why the Toronto Police Service can no longer afford a zero budget increase, after years of finding efficiencies and hiring fewer police officers.

After a three-hour virtual meeting of the Toronto Police Services board, in which 20 community members spoke, including one person who suggested that the police service should be fifty percent underfunded, the board unanimously approved a budget proposal of $ 1.1 billion for 2022, an increase of $ 24.8 million or 2.3 percent.

“We saved $ 100 million in 2019. Cumulatively, we have saved more than $ 400 million since 2015. The savings we have achieved were primarily achieved through staff reductions.

These reductions have amounted to more than 400 uniformed members from 2010 to 2021. A reduction of more than 5 percent to our workforce.

“This is a time when demand for services has grown into one of the fastest growing services in North America,” said Ramer, adding that there has been a zero percent police budget increase for three of the last three five years.

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Ramer explained that making staff cuts has become more difficult each year because 90 percent of the budget is involved in collective bargaining obligations.

Ramer said priorities include deploying community officers to neighborhoods, supporting the “Vision Zero” road safety initiative, allocating more resources to investigate hate crimes and mental health training for officers.

He also said that in 2021 there was an 8.6 percent increase in car theft, which will require the reestablishment of an investigative team to investigate the troubling trend and organized crime.

“All of these initiatives will put pressure on our budget,” Ramer said.

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He also noted that Toronto has fewer officers per resident compared to other large cities in North America. Toronto has 161 police officers per 100,000, compared to Montreal, which has 212, and Vancouver, which has 196. “Our overall goal is to increase the public’s trust in the police.”

The first community member to give a delegation, who identified himself as a queen, a non-binary person of color from Rosedale, said he has faced discrimination and violence at the hands of the police.

“I am speaking to support defunding the police by at least fifty percent to meet the needs of the community.”

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Noah Shack, vice president of the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs, applauded the service for identifying the need to do more to combat the rise in hate crimes.

Shack said Jews were the target of 34 percent of hate crimes in Toronto last year and supports the budget, “focusing particularly on hate crimes and the growing neighborhood community officer program.”

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Howard Morton, who represents the Ontario Bar Union Oversight Subcommittee, expressed concern that the board failed to deliver on its commitment to budget transparency and accountability, noting that the budget listed $ 83 million for TPS Specialized Operations Command but there was no information regarding how that money would be used.

“There is an $ 83 million black hole,” Morton said, noting that the budget proposal was only presented less than a week before the meeting, giving the public very little time to understand and comment on the 100-page document.

John Sewell of the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition asked the board to delay the matter for a period of two weeks because he agreed it was published too late.

The meeting ended with board members showing their support for the budget proposal, including Mayor John Tory, who called it a difficult task.

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The mayor told the board that solid progress had been made toward reforming the Toronto Police Service and is listening to residents calling for more police officers regarding neighborhood officers, road safety and hate crimes.

“I will not compromise the security of this city and the constant implementation of reforms and the way we do the surveillance and the investments that are necessary to achieve it. I will not compromise on that, especially to appease the people who really, when they get down to business, have very few facts and figures to back up what they are saying in terms of how it would be better to somehow defund the police. by fifty percent. Fifty percent, ”Tory said, calling the idea impractical and impossible.

The proposed budget must now be approved by the City of Toronto budget committee.

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