Loading articles...

City safety at risk due to police understaffing, union head warns

Police officers patrol a Toronto street in an undated file photo. CITYNEWS

The head of the Toronto police union said the safety of residents is at risk because of the decline in the number of police officers in the city.

The Toronto Police Association said there is an understaffing problem after a hiring freeze that has been in place for a number of years.

Union head Mike McCormack said officers are rushing from call to call which is increasing their stress, leading to burnout and ruining morale.

“The morale now is up to around a 68 per cent of people saying that they have very little positive or no positive morale at all at work right now.”

McCormack said officers are bouncing between divisions to cover the volume of police calls. He claims this often leaves four or six officers to police an entire division.

“Between 8:30 and 10:30 (on Friday), there was only one car available for all of 31 Division. They had to have other cars go up there,” he explained.

McCormack said the number of Toronto officers looking for jobs elsewhere has turned into “a mass exodus.”

“What we’ve seen is a dramatic increase. And they are the officers in the key demographic — the eight to 16 year officers.”

The Toronto Police Transformational Task Force called for a further reduction of 450 police officers, with clerical and non-urgent matters handled by civilian staff.

McCormack met with Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders at police headquarters on Monday to discuss the concerns. There has been no word on how that meeting went.