A task force formed to examine the Toronto Police Service has recommended amalgamating police divisions, overhauling paid duty and placing a moratorium on hiring and promotions in an attempt to save upwards of $100 million over the next few years.
Toronto Mayor John Tory instructed the transformational task force to produce the interim report earlier this year in an attempt to mitigate the police force’s ballooning $1-billion budget.
The 35-page report put forth a list of 24 recommendations including the disbanding of Toronto anti-Violence Intervention Strategy (TAVIS), in addition to a “shift from primary to priority response” — meaning a reduction in the time officers spend responding to non-emergency calls.
TAVIS was launched in 2006 — a year after the “Summer of the Gun” saw a massive spike in the rate of firearms-related homicides — and focuses on deploying teams of specialized officers to areas with high violent crime rates.
The report also calls for “an overhaul of the paid duty system” to ensure off-duty officers are only used for paid duty “where the skills, authorities and training of a police officer are necessary,” in addition to agreeing with city recommendations to create municipal traffic wardens in place of police.
A redesign of the current outline of 17 police divisions has also been recommended “to better meet the needs of our large complex city,” meaning fewer divisions that are more centralized around specific neighbourhoods and management and supervisory positions eliminated.
The amalgamation of 54 and 55 Divisions was recommended as the first phase of a longer term move to consolidate resources, with similar options being explored for Divisions 12, 13, 33, 41, 52 and 53.
The report also identified $100 million in “reductions and savings” to the service’s $1 billion budget over the next three years, which includes $60 million resulting from a proposed ban on promotions and new hires.
The task force’s final report will be completed by the end of the year and presented to the Police Services Board in January.