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Managing demonstrations since the Israel-Hamas war has cost $7.5 million: Toronto police

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Toronto police say that it has cost $7.5 million to manage hundreds of demonstrations that have taken place since the start of the Israel-Hamas war on Oct. 7.

The force said Friday that they have responded to 343 demonstrations in the city since the war started. The $7.5 million figure includes other proactive work related to Project Resolute, the TPS initiative to add patrols around sensitive Jewish and Muslim community spaces.

The figure represents the human resource costs associated with policing the demonstrations, including about $2.9 million in overtime pay, the force said.

"As the Chief has mentioned, the number of demonstrations and events TPS officers have been attending since October 7 is one example of the pressures we’re facing policing our ever growing city, which is uniquely impacted by geopolitical events," Toronto police Spokesperson Stephanie Sayer said in an email. "Our officers have worked tirelessly to manage more than 340 demonstrations attended by several dozen people to more than 25,000 people. This is exponentially more than any other city in Canada.

"As a result, the Service has had to redeploy and transfer officers from other areas of the Service in order to respond, which means other work isn’t being done or is paused, as we prioritize immediate public safety needs."

Toronto has seen multiple demonstrations per week over the past few months.

While most of the protests have taken place without incident, some have seen businesses and neighbourhoods targeted, and charges have been laid in connection with a few of them.

Police have been under pressure to provide added security in the community as hate crimes have skyrocketed amid the ongoing war.

Police confirmed the cost of managing the protests as a back-and-forth continues between Mayor Olivia Chow and Chief Myron Demkiw over the police budget.

While the Toronto Police Services Board approved a $20 million increase to the TPS budget for 2024, that increase was trimmed by about $12.6 million when city staff released their proposed city budget earlier this month.

Demkiw has said that the shrunken increase will make it impossible to deliver the level of service that is expected from police.

Chow said Thursday that TPS is receiving a “substantial“ bump to its budget, and vowed to provide a more detailed breakdown of the ways that they are being supported financially.

In a tweet the same day, Demkiw said the force is asking for a "modest 1.7 per cent increase" and reducing the board-approved budget will make it impossible to meet hiring goals.

"By 2025, any gains on the front line will be wiped out by retirements & growth," he said.

Chow is expected to receive feedback from the budget committee before tabling her draft of the budget before city council next month.

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