Toronto police are donning Toronto Police Association baseball caps in a demonstration over staffing and other concerns, according to the union representing officers.
“All of our members, uniform and civilian, will be wearing the ball caps,” said Mike McCormack, president of the Toronto Police Association (TPA).
McCormack said current staffing levels for officers and the Toronto Police Service Command Centre, which deals with emergency calls, are so low he’s concerned about the potential impact on public safety.
“People are waiting for our officers to respond, they’re waiting for our civilians to deal with issues,” McCormack told AM640 host Tasha Kheiriddin on Thursday.
LISTEN: Mike McCormack joins Tasha Kheiriddin on AM640
“And when the mantra from the Toronto Police Service is now…’Sorry it took us so long’. I mean, we have a problem with that, not only from a public service perspective, but from a public safety perspective,” he said.
On Aug. 10, an agreement was struck between the union, Toronto police and the Toronto Police Services Board to hire 80 new officers despite a hiring freeze and review staffing levels for communications operators and divisional staff.
“Four or five weeks later, we’ve have had no action on those points and all we’re getting is lip service,” McCormack said.
WATCH: Toronto police wear baseball caps in protest over staffing concerns. Ashley Molnar reports.
McCormack said those 80 officers won’t make up for all the resignations and retirements, however. He said the force has lost 203 uniformed officers and 124 civilians this year and expects more in the coming years.
“We’re going to lose upwards of 500 police officers in two years, and they’re saying OK, we’ll give you 80 back,” McCormack said.
The union has been raising concerns about the Toronto police modernization plan, which was unveiled in January. The plan called for fewer policing divisions and other changes designed to make the force more efficient.
It will also see different agencies do some of the work of some current police association members, such as crossing guards, and non-policing related calls diverted to other agencies.
WATCH: Mike McCormack addresses the hat protest in a video sent to TPA members
Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders addressed the issue, along with other staffing-related issues, in an internal memo Thursday.
“Many of you are wearing ball caps because you have been told that command is not listening or not taking action. I have just made it clear to you that command does listen, has and always will take action,” Saunders wrote in the memo, which was shared with Global News by a police source.
With files from Nick Westoll