Reduced police force could be final chapter in the slow death of Rob Ford’s half-baked campaign promise

Reduced police force could be final chapter in the slow death of Rob Ford’s half-baked campaign promise

Police chief Bill Blair is sure to be steaming over the latest report from city hall (Image: Daniel Ehrenworth)

Last week, news broke that the Toronto police plan to offer severance packages to hundreds of police officers (which police chief Bill Blair is none too happy about)—hoping the expendable would choose to go quietly rather than forcing their superiors to lay them off. The cuts are aimed at meeting Mayor Rob Fords onerous budget demands, and clearly not in keeping with his campaign promise to put 100 more police on the street (but, hey, what’s a campaign promise really worth these days?). Of course, in the past, the mayor has supported the police to the point of absurdity, so we don’t doubt he sincerely believed more cops on the city streets would make Toronto a safer place. But what’s doubtful is that Ford actually did his homework before making the now suspect campaign promise (at the very least, he obviously didn’t consult with police beforehand).

The dirt, in the form of yesterday’s report from city manager Joe Pennachetti:

Consider reducing the size of the police force through budgetary means, and a business-based approach to efficiency and effectiveness. This could include reducing or temporarily eliminating hiring of new officers, providing incentives for early retirement benefits savings, and one-officer patrols in appropriate circumstances.

Because policing is a serious business—and because Canada’s crime rate is down, after all—we won’t speculate on how large the force needs to be in order to keep Toronto reasonably safe. Nonetheless, the larger reductions recommendation is still a significant departure from the campaign promise Ford made (but probably wouldn’t have been able to keep in the first place). Until yesterday, Ford insisted that he simply requested all city agencies to find “10 per cent efficiencies.” We suspect that if—or when—the police proceed with buyouts, Ford might simply throw his hands up and lament that the police couldn’t do the hard math necessary to keep more officers on the street. It would be their fault, not his. But Pennachetti’s recommendations may not allow him to play that card.

Toronto police may be offered buyouts [Toronto Star]
Ford’s plan to hire more police, only cops don’t want them [Toronto Star]
Toronto could lose 400 police officers to buyouts [The Globe and Mail]