Toronto Police Service’s 2023 budget request prioritizes core services and emergency response time improvement
January 3, 2023 By Blue Line Staff / Toronto Police Service
The Toronto Police Service has released its operating budget request for 2023 as part of a multi-year plan that prioritizes core services, the hiring of officers, special constables and communication operators to ensure timely help is available when Torontonians call 9-1-1, and also advances technology to create sufficient capacity to allow officers to optimize their time to best serve the city’s increasing needs.
“As we considered our 2023 priorities, it was clear that our budget must reflect what we have heard from the public. It must be about core services and response times to emergency calls from Torontonians,” said Chief of Police Myron Demkiw. “It also prioritizes modernizing our operations to enable the Service to keep pace with the increasing demands of our growing city.”
The Toronto Police Service’s net operating budget request is $1,166.5 Million (M) which represents a 4.3 per cent increase over last year. Of the $48.3M increase, $18.5M or 1.7 per cent is required to apply negotiated wage increases under collective agreements with the Toronto Police Association and Senior Officers’ Organization.
The Service’s budgets have consistently represented a declining share of the City’s overall budgets, from 26 per cent in 2011 to 22.9 per cent in 2022.
Compared to other major Canadian and U.S. cities, Toronto’s officers serve an increasing number of residents per officer, not including the additional numbers of those who come to the City daily to work and visit. In 2011 there was one Toronto Police officer for every 468 residents and in 2021, there was one police officer for approximately every 600 residents.
Chief Demkiw outlined his priorities during the change of Command ceremony on December 19, 2022 as improving trust, accelerating reform and supporting safer communities.
The Service has identified the following key areas where additional investments will be made in 2023 upon budget approval:
Improving emergency response time: This budget will allow the Service to build its core service delivery team by adding approximately 200 uniform officers within the next year, including 162 priority response officers of which 25 will be deployed to support community safety in the downtown core, and 22 major case management personnel which will allow the Service to begin to meet legislative requirements. The Service also plans to fill 90 Special Constable positions and hire an additional 20 9-1-1 communication operators. These totals take in to account anticipated separations and retirements.
Crisis call diversion program: Extending the program of placing community crisis workers in the 9-1-1 Communications Centre underlines the Service’s commitment to alternative service delivery; allowing the 9-1-1 Communications team to identify when a police response is not required and community agency support alone will be the best response. The Service will also participate in the City’s Community Crisis Service pilot and efforts to implement SafeTO: A Community Safety & Well-Being Plan. By applying a public health lens to their practices, they will invest more time, energy and resources into preventing gun violence before it happens.
Technological advancement: Technology can help ensure officers’ time is focused on the highest value work, such as responding to the most urgent calls from Torontonians. Increased investment in the Service’s technology will drive efficiencies through greater automation and digitization of work; provide advanced analytics to improve decision-making capabilities; and, increase officer mobility through initiatives like the Digital Officer Program.
Accelerating police reform: The Service is dedicated to addressing the findings and recommendations from key reports and independent reviews that have identified areas in need of improvement. This includes Major Case Management improvements so the Service can begin to meet legislative requirements, the recommendations of the Honourable Justice Gloria J. Epstein, Head of the Independent Civilian Review into Missing Person Investigations, the City’s Auditor General report on 9-1-1 call response times and priority calls for service, as well as the Board’s 81 directions on police reform.
Building community trust: This budget request will allow for expansion of the Neighbourhood Community Officer program by an additional 16 Neighbourhood Community officers by the end of 2023. The Service will also continue its efforts to prevent the increase of gang violence through a multi-sectoral approach focused on education, prevention, intervention and suppression in partnership with community agencies. It is also expected that the Service will release an action plan to address the findings from its race-based data collection work.
Member wellness & improving trust internally: The Service is committed to the wellness, development and training of its people for a healthy and professionalized workforce, including the implementation of recommendations from Deloitte’s report on workplace harassment that was released in July.
To learn more about the Service’s Budget 2023 request, including line by line information, please visit the 2023 Budget webpage.
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