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Reigning in policing costs through privatization

Apr 28 2015

TORONTO - To arrest soaring costs, a new report is calling for sweeping changes to the policing model in Ontario, including transferring many functions performed by front-line officers to civilians or other “private sector security providers.”

“The purpose of this paper is not to outline the economic problem, but to consider how the future might look,” says the just released 45-page report prepared by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.

Ontarians pay the highest policing costs in Canada, including both provincial and municipal expenditures, the report states. “Over many years and many economic swings, police budgets have not seen some of the more aggressive cuts experienced by other public services,” the report says. “But a wall has been hit.”


April 30, 2015
By Corrie Sloot

Apr 28 2015

TORONTO – To arrest soaring costs, a new report is calling for sweeping changes to the policing model in Ontario, including transferring many functions performed by front-line officers to civilians or other “private sector security providers.”

“The purpose of this paper is not to outline the economic problem, but to consider how the future might look,” says the just released 45-page report prepared by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.

Ontarians pay the highest policing costs
in Canada, including both provincial and
municipal expenditures, the report states.
“Over many years and many economic swings, police budgets have not seen some of the more aggressive cuts experienced by other public services,” the report says. “But a
wall has been hit.”

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The report contains 31 far-reaching
recommendations aimed at modernizing the
delivery of police services while reining in costs. Many would require the provincial government to change the Police Services Act, which governs policing matters across Ontario. It and accompanying regulations have not been reviewed in any substantive manner since they were enacted in the late ‘90s, the report says.

Key proposals are changes to collective
bargaining and the arbitration system, which has led to “leapfrogging” wages.

In agencies with more than 50 officers police salaries increased by 40 per cent
between 2000 and 2011, while Canadians
in non-policing occupations averaged pay
raises of only 11 per cent, the report says.

The report also recommends strengthening
civilian oversight and changing legislation to permit “greater transfer of specific functions to civilians or other security providers where appropriate.”

In particular, this applies to court security, prisoner transportation services and many “paid duty” functions, especially in larger cities.

“We see that as an opportunity and a better use, I might add, of policing resources if they’re concentrating on front-line policing,” says Kapuskasing Mayor Al Spacek, who chaired AMO’s 13-member policing modernization task force.

“Let civilians and others do the paperwork, or the data entry or some non-critical investigative aspects of their work.”

The report coincides with the arrival of
Toronto’s new police chief, Mark Saunders,
who was selected after promising to bring
forward “innovative ideas on cost savings”
that “challenge the status quo.”

Toronto Police Services Board chair Alok
Mukherjee and Dorothy McDonald, who oversees the Halton Regional Police Services Board, sat on the AMO task force that interviewed experts, reviewed academic research and held thorough and lengthy discussions on the future of policing.

“We are hopeful that the (provincial)
government will consider some of our
recommendations, and we are certainly willing to continue the discussion with them, as we are a major partner in delivery of the service and certainly the major funder,” Spacek said Tuesday.

Through AMO, Ontario’s 444 municipalities
work together to achieve shared goals and coordinate advocacy, the Toronto-based organization says on its website.

(Toronto Star)