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Toronto police chief warns of possible layoffs

Toronto police chief Bill Blair is warning there could be layoffs in the wake of the police services board committed to a budget freeze for 2013.

“Eighty-eight per cent of our budget is salary,” Blair said Wednesday.

“It’s impossible to achieve a reduction…without impacting the number of people on the payroll.”

Police had asked the city for $976.6 million, but Toronto’s budget chief Coun. Mike Del Grande said the force would be given $933.8 million, the same as last year.

Police will also have to find 5.4 per cent in reductions, which were put off in the 2012 budget. Last year, all city agencies, boards, and commissions were asked to reduce their spending by 10 per cent.

The police cut spending by less than half that amount, 4.6 per cent, and must now make up the difference.

“The mood has changed…it’s not going to be an automatic yes [for increases]. We will say no,” Del Grande said at city hall.

“No one has been able to tell us definitively how many police officers does it take to police the city of Toronto.”

Del Grande is interested in a study on how many officers are needed in the city.

The police budget is the largest budget within the City of Toronto.