As of January 2018, the Toronto Police Service employs just over 5,000 police officers. That’s almost 600 officers less from 2010 staffing levels despite the city’s population having grown by over 8% since 2010.

This reduction in police officers comes at a time when the Toronto Police Service is facing unprecedented challenges, including “transformative change” in the delivery of police services.

And more cuts are coming. The Transformational Task Force, a budget cutting exercise under the guise of modernization, recommends cutting almost 300 more officers by 2020.

This will bring the Toronto Police Service down to 4,750 officers by 2020, almost a 20% decrease compared to 2010 staffing levels.

Since Toronto started cutting police services, many types of violent crime have increased. This is not a surprise and it’s not complicated: less police means more crime. Police cuts are also made worse when they happen in a growing city; Toronto is expected to break the 3 million population mark by 2020. Less police and more residents.  This is not the time to be cutting.

In our opinion, the Service has reached a breaking point. Not only is public safety compromised, but service to the public has deteriorated:

  • Wait times have gone up – it takes longer now for police to respond to calls, including urgent calls
  • Officers have become more reactive than proactive – they are running from call to call, trying to clear the outstanding emergency calls
  • Officers are regularly being called away to cover other duties, meaning they do not have time to patrol locally, engage with residents or solve problems in their own communities
  • During peak calls for service, areas of our city have little to no police coverage
  • Our members are burned out, stressed, and morale is at an all-time low

Quite simply, we don’t have enough police officers to meet the demands placed upon the Service. Many divisions are struggling to fill even half of their patrol cars at the start of shift. It is not uncommon, for 42 Division for example, Toronto’s largest police Division stretching from Victoria Park Avenue on the west, to Pickering Townline on the east, Steeles Avenue on the north and Highway 401 on the south, to cover an entire division with almost 300,000 residents with three or four patrol cars.

Recently, the Toronto Police Service has been taking officers out of their divisions and sending them to other parts of the city inundated with shootings and other violent crime.

This re-deployment depletes resources at the officer’s home unit, resulting in a severe backlog of pending radio calls with no units available to respond to some emergencies.

Our view, that this is a major problem for the City of Toronto, seems not to be shared by the senior ranks of the Toronto Police Service or by our elected officials.

These police cuts are being made with no meaningful consultation or public input.  Only the Association is talking about the impact an almost 20% reduction in police officers has on the welfare of our members or on public safety. That is why the Association chose to make our concerns public.

There is no easy answer to this question. Our police are being asked to do more and more, but are being given less with which to do it.

Neither the Toronto Police Service or city leaders have provided any analysis to support their position that Toronto can make do with almost 1,000 fewer officers. In fact, the last published review conducted by the Toronto Police Service in 2012-2013, made recommendations to increase police staffing.

The Association’s position is not to tell the Service how many officers are needed or how those officers should be deployed. We should all agree that we must have the right number of officers in the right place at the right time to effectively police a growing city like Toronto.

Numbers do matter. Cuts to the police service under the Transformational Task Force have drastically reduced frontline policing and resulted in changes in duties for our Community Response Officers.

Chronic understaffing on the frontline makes it difficult for our members to carry out basic policing duties and hinders proactive policing efforts. As a stop-gap measure, the Service is now taking Community Response officers away from their community duties in a failed attempt to fill gaps on the frontline.

Our members report that service delivery is deteriorating and that they are the ones who must deal firsthand with a dissatisfied public. In a recent member survey, 93% of our members feel that the Toronto Police Service is under-resourced and 75% disagree that the recommendations in the current administration’s Transformational Task Force Report are in the public’s best interest.

Our communities have become less safe as our members struggle to provide police protection to Toronto neighbourhoods. It’s no surprise, that as of March 12, 2018, overall crime has increased in thirteen of Toronto’s seventeen police divisions, some as high as 39% (51 Division). In fact, nine divisions are experiencing double-digit crime increases.

Our members are trying to make a bad situation work, by trying to do more with less. Not only are they jeopardizing their own welfare and safety in doing so, but they are disappointed they can’t give the level of customer service they believe the community deserves.

It is no secret that members are leaving the Toronto Police Service in record numbers for services that are appropriately staffed and where member health and wellness is a priority.

A recent membership survey conducted by the Association reveals a membership that is struggling to keep their heads above water in the face of increased demands and chronic understaffing.

Frontline members tell us that they have been forced back into a reactive policing mode, running from call to call, as the number of officers continues to decrease.

Investigative members tell us that there has been a noticeable loss of intelligence due to a lack of pro-active policing.

Further reductions in uniform staffing will continue to have a detrimental impact, not only on the community but on the health and wellness of our members as they try and do more with less.

The Association is not opposed to modernization. We share many of the Transformational Task Force report’s values; safer communities, responsive frontline policing and the need for improved collaboration with the community.

Most importantly, we support community policing which is the lynchpin of the Transformational Task Force Report. However, community policing is resource intensive and difficult to sustain when the Service is understaffed. Staff cuts have weakened our member’s ability to engage proactively with the community and deliver community policing where it matters most, in Toronto’s most vulnerable communities.

Toronto is a complex city with complex challenges, and we need a police service that is equipped to meet these challenges. We need to find a long-term solution to the staffing crisis now, because what’s happening today is not working.

You can throw your support behind Toronto’s officers by joining us on Facebook and sending a message to Chief Saunders, Mayor John Tory and Toronto Police Services Board Chair Andy Pringle.

It’s time for politicians to put public safety ahead of their cost-cutting agendas and reinvest in frontline community policing.

How To Contact The Toronto Police Services Board

The Toronto Police Services Board needs to start listening. Not to police critics, but to frontline officers.

Cuts to police will affect your community. If you agree that we need to Stop the Toronto Police Cuts please join us on Facebook or click here to send your views to the Toronto Police Services Board


About the TPA

The Toronto Police Association (“TPA”) was officially incorporated as a non-profit organization on December 3, 1956. Throughout its existence the TPA’s fundamental purpose has been to “protect those who protect others” and to promote the interests of its members in a variety of spheres. READ MORE

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Toronto, ON M1T 3V3, Canada
Tel: 416-491-4301
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Email: information@tpa.ca