Chief: More Officers Needed to Fill Gaps

By Ron Fanfair

Ron Fanfair


Office of the Chief

Chief Myron Demkiw reminded the city’s decision makers that losing $12.6 million from the Toronto Police Services Board-approved $20 million budget request will have consequences on service delivery.

“We’ve got to take a hard look at everything we're doing. And the one place we do, we're going to be looking at is our proactive activities. And that is one of the most valued programs, unfortunately, that we have to look at carefully is Neighborhood Community Officers,” Demkiw said at a news conference at Toronto Police headquarters February 1, 2024 following an announcement by Mayor Olivia Chow on her proposed budget.

He said the priority will be on protecting core services, such as responding to 9-1-1 calls for service.

“The kind of essential service to be there when residents of Toronto are, are fearing for their safety and need us the most.”

He said that pipeline of hiring police officers would also be threatened by lower funding

“That's why I'm signaling very clearly to the decision makers. The pipeline to hire is long and disrupting that pipeline has really serious long term ramifications, and we are already significantly degraded.”

Demkiw said he has been clear since the start of the budget process that the Service needs to pursue a multi-year plan of hiring to address core service needs.

“We are now at a critical point in our history as a city and as a police service and have been very clear that without the $20 million increase in our budget that the police board approved, we will not be able to hire four classes of 90 police officers and essential civilian professionals this year. Any gain on our frontline in 2024 is going to be wiped out in 2025. In fact, we will be moving backwards.”

While appreciating there are significant financial constraints for the City of Toronto, the Chief reiterated that priority response times of 22.6 minutes aren’t acceptable.  He noted that Toronto has grown significantly, calls for service are up 19 per cent this year and crime is up 18 per cent.

“We are still trying to catch up from a hiring freeze in 2016 and 2017 and four zero per cent budget increases in the last decade,” Demkiw pointed out. “Interrupting our ability to hire will impact us in 2025 and 2026 and beyond with an empty pipeline in our hiring stream to replace officers who are retiring.”

He noted that 25 per cent of our police officers can retire right now and, in 10 years, 60 per cent can retire.

The Chief reminded the city’s decision makers that losing $12.6 million will have consequences for service delivery and service degradation.

“Ninety per cent of what we spend in policing is our people,” Demkiw said. “And what we need right now are more people.”

The Service’s Command team will meet on Monday to make some very difficult choices to ensure the Service has enough officers for emergency response.

“This may be the most significant budget conversation we have had in the city as it relates to public safety and our capacity to actually meet any reasonable expectations of our requirements by legislation,” Demkiw said. “We need to be strategic and we need to be responsible and I look forward to having continued conversations in the coming days about the challenges we face at Toronto Police.”

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