Toronto police report recommends closing 6 police stations, allowing one-cop cruisers
Chris Fox and Chris Herhalt, CTV Toronto
Published Thursday, June 16, 2016 8:03AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, June 16, 2016 6:18PM EDT
A report aimed at saving millions at the Toronto Police Service suggests doing away with six police divisions, disbanding TAVIS and allowing officers to operate in cruisers without a partner in select circumstances.
The report from the Transformational Task Force was released during a technical briefing with members of the media at 2 p.m. Thursday.
(The full report can be seen below.)
Among the recommendations, the task force recommends that the Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy (TAVIS) should be disbanded by the end of the summer following a substantial cut to the unit’s provincial funding (from $5 million to $2.6 million) that took effect in January.
The report says the deployment of TAVIS officers “had unintended impacts on communities, especially on communities, especially among racialized youth who felt unfairly targeted.”
The report also recommends the service lose 450 uniformed officers through attrition and implement a three-year freeze on hiring and non-essential promotions.
As well, the report recommends merging or shutting down six police stations as a way to save money on property taxes.
Under the proposal, 54 Division would close shop in 2017, merging with 55 Division. Then in 2018, "similar options" would be explored for 12, 13, 33, 53, and 41 divisions.
The police stations where these divisions are based out of are worth approximately $72 million and would be “returned to the City of Toronto,” the report says.
The president of the police union said he isn’t pleased with what’s being proposed and warned it could have devastating consequences.
“It’s seems to be a very conflicting report. They are talking about improved, enhanced policing in communities and having these collaborations while at the same time saying ‘How are we going to start this up? We are going to reduce the size of the service,’” Toronto Police Association President Mike McCormack told CP24 on Thursday. “It is absolutely ridiculous.”
“Crime doesn’t happen in stations,” Saunders said when asked about division closures. “We need our men and women outside communicating with the members of the public.”
He said the report calls for officers to have better connectivity in the field, using mobile-enabled e-notebooks in cruisers that received updated information in real-time.
McCormack said that his members are open to seeking out efficiencies that will allow the TPS to trim its $1 billion budget but he said public safety must be paramount.
The problem, he said, is that by cutting units like TAVIS and reducing the number of officers on the street public safety will be negatively affected.
“We are about not only protecting our members’ rights but we are about public safety and we are going to look at it from a public safety lens,” he said.
Speaking to CP24, Chief Saunders echoed the report, suggesting TAVIS was not received well by some members of the public.
“Good policing has to be balanced with social cost, and dealing with the public, there were certain segments of the community that said there was a very large social cost to the TAVIS work that was being done.”
The report suggests Toronto Police administrators negotiate away the provision in the collective agreement with the Toronto Police Association that requires two officers in each patrol cruiser.
Using risk analysis, the report says single officer cruisers would be used in situations where being alone would not compromise officers safety, the report says.
The report also calls for the disbanding of the transit patrol unit, dedicated to patrolling TTC subways and stations, and uploading the service’s program for city-run beaches and school crossing programs for the city to manage.
The report calls on the province to allow security guards at area shopping malls train to become special constables. This move would save about 5,500 hours of police labour each year.
Saunders said a primary focus of the report was finding ways for officers to spend more time responding to emergencies and events that require trained police and less time responding to things like animal complaints and residential noise, which are better left to bylaw enforcement.
“There are a vast number of calls (for police service) that we should not be going to,” Saunders said. “Working with other agencies so that they can take a lot of the pressures off will allow more of officers to do what they’re trained to do on a regular basis.”
The recommendations are expected to be tabled at Friday’s meeting of the Toronto Police Services Board. A final report will likely be released sometime late in the year.
Public consultations would likely then be held before any of the proposal are implemented.
Combined, the report’s recommendations could save an estimated $100 million in police spending over the next three years.
Speaking with CP24 about the report on Wednesday, Mayor John Tory said it has the potential to be transformational.
“It achieves things people said we couldn’t do, or we wouldn’t do, or in some cases they said we shouldn’t do,” he said. “I think they are things that are in the public interest – they will make for a safer city, they will make for a better policed city, they will make for the more efficient deployment of police services, and they’ll make for the beginnings of a restoration of trust.”