Police chief versus mayor: Bill Blair takes on Rob Ford over budget cuts
Every city department is being forced to reckon with major budget cuts—just as Rob Ford instructed earlier this year. Most departments don’t have the public profile or sufficient respect from taxpayers to make a stink about the cuts—unless they have, say, Margaret Atwood in their corner—but the police sure do. Chief of Police Bill Blair has been warning for months now that the budget constraints his department’s facing could lead to close to 1,000 officers and staff getting axed, and as of yesterday he’s no longer being discreet about it.
From the Toronto Sun’s Joe Warmington:
“By the end of the year there would be 1,000 fewer police officers on the streets of Toronto,” Chief Bill Blair told Citytv’s Avery Haines in an interview. “That’s almost one police officer in five.”
That was the lead jab. The next one was a low blow.
”That would have a very significant impact on public safety and our ability to keep the city safe,” said Blair.
Translation: The mayor and his cuts to the 5,600 men and women in uniform are putting the city at risk?
We enjoyed Joe Warmington’s narration of the dispute—but the brouhaha gets even more amusing when we learned that the mayor still insists it’s possible to cut the police budget without taking cops off the street (“I’ve always supported the police,” said Ford) and Ford’s defenders, like Michael Thompson, are still defending him. They say that Blair is being alarmist and using crazy numbers to get his way on the budget. Hmmm. That accusation sounds strangely familiar. Oh, right. We’ve heard it before.
• Chief Blair says 1,000 cops could be axed to meet budget target [Toronto Star]
• Blair takes on Ford [Toronto Sun]
• Ford cuts will cost 1,000 officers their jobs, police chief says [Globe and Mail]