If you notice Toronto police officers wearing baseball caps on the job, it’s not an ode to the Blue Jays. But it does signify that they’re ready to play hardball with the Toronto Police Services Board over staffing levels.
Toronto Police Association (TPA) president, Mike McCormack, said the board has reneged on a promise to hire 80 new officers, putting front-line cops, and the public, at risk due to insufficient staffing levels.
As a symbol of solidarity and protest, officers are wearing blue TPA baseball caps on the job.
McCormack, who was hesitant to call the move “job action,” hopes the wardrobe adjustment will help educate the public on what he believes is a dangerous lack of front-line officers.
He also noted numerous jobs have been lost through attrition.
“We have lost, this year alone so far, 327 people through resignations and retirements — 203 uniformed officers — and we are only in September,” he said. “That’s an entire division gone.
“We are putting out five or six officers for an entire division that polices 250,000 residents. What are we doing here?”
Mayor John Tory addressed the issue on Thursday, saying the city is in the process of hiring new officers.
“Every one of the issues they have laid out for us is being addressed right now as we speak,” he told reporters. “And that’s evidenced … by the fact that one of those issues, namely the hiring of more police officers, was the subject two days ago of an announcement that we’re proceeding to hire a few more officers to take account of the fact we’ve had some departures this year.”
The Toronto Police Services Board did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and McCormack is accusing the board of ignoring the problem.
“We’ve been talking with the Service for months about the negative impact that staffing cuts are having on public safety, on our officers and civilians, and it’s been falling on deaf ears,” he said.
“We had a promise with the Chief and the Chair to do something about this,” he fumed. “We’ve had no action from them. We’ve had enough. Our members have had enough.”
McCormack said officers could face discipline for donning the caps, but it’s a risk they are willing to take.
“There’s a potential for discipline,” he admitted. “But they are willing to take that chance because it is so important to get that message out about the compromise to public safety.”