Cutting up to 1,200 employees would help Toronto’s police force fall in line with City Hall’s decree to trim $40 million from its 2011 budget, Chief Bill Blair said Wednesday.
But after warning that such a budget cut would require a “significant number of reductions in personnel,” layoffs won’t happen, Blair told the Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB).
“I don’t have the authority,” he said.
The current 5,617 officer level was “set by this board and by the city council,” Blair said. And any orders for cop cuts “must be approved by the Ontario Civilian Commission on Policing.”
Toronto Police also employ 2,068 civilians.
Staff salaries and benefits represent 88.5% of the budget and union negotiations are due this year.
The board decided to revisit the police, TPSB and Toronto Parking Authority budgets and delay submitting them to city officials until Tuesday.
During a review of this year’s proposed $915-million police budget — which includes a call for a 3% increase worth $26.7 million — officials outlined cost savings that include $7 million after 233 officers retire, no new initiatives, plus reduced computer maintenance, training programs and consultant use.
Asking for an over-all 5% reduction “is in direct contradiction” of previous council orders and is “virtually unachievable,” Blair said.
Mayor Rob Ford, who will meet next week with the chief, has eased his recent election campaign to add 100 officers.
“I’m not going to tell the police how to do their job,” Ford said Wednesday, adding he wants to discuss ways to keep the city safe and ensure officers “have the tools to do their job.”
Vice-chairman Michael Thompson, who initiated the postponement, called the police budget “complex,” since Ford demands no “gravy train” spending while maintaining services.