Cutting police budget a risky move
As city council debates the 2010 operating budget this week, it is important to recognize a necessary anomaly in this year’s budget: the Toronto Police.
Many have questioned the Police Services Board’s decision not to follow several other divisions of the city to cut 5 per cent of their budget, opting instead for a 3.9 per cent increase.
With over 90 per cent of this year’s police budget going towards salaries, the police budget is justified on many levels. It is important to note, however that the budget increase will not be sufficient to allow the police chief to maintain the appropriate number of recruitment classes this year, which will place additional pressure on next year’s budget.
This year’s police budget is being helped by a cash infusion of $1.8 million from the federal government to hire 42 transit cops to mitigate the potential risks to public safety on the subway system. Considering that the number of Toronto police officers per capita is approximately 10 per cent less than Montreal’s police force, the city must find the means to continue to increase the number of uniformed officers patrolling our streets and neighbourhoods in order to maintain the public’s trust and confidence for a safe city.
Some will point to recent crime statistics in Toronto that show a reduction in crime over several major indicators. However, we should not be persuaded by these statistics. Toronto still faces several challenges to public safety, including organized crime, gang activity and terrorist threats.
Policing is one of the most fundamental components of our city. The Police Services Board and the city need to ensure that they continue to maintain the necessary number of officers in Toronto in order to keep our community safe. Every single police officer contributes to a safer city, and the delay, or reduction in the number of officers will undoubtedly put our city at risk.