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Toronto police ‘work to rule’ amidst 911 response time ‘crisis,’ union boss said

AVERY HAINES | posted Friday, Aug 4th, 2017

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Frontline Toronto police officers have been quietly “working to rule” for the past month, and it appears to be putting pressure on how long it takes for officers to respond to calls.

Union boss Mike McCormack read through random dates from 911 dispatch to CityNews on Thursday. From suicide threats and domestic violence to gun calls, in many cases it took hours before a unit was sent to the scene.

As an example, McCormack said one person waited more than two days for an officer to come to their home after calling 911.

“Somebody was so aggravated they waited 55 hours to report a break and enter that they walked into the police station to report it. And it’s not that it’s just happening in an isolated area. This is across the city,” he said.

McCormack said the issues are caused by staffing shortages and a deployment re-organization.

However, he acknowledged a frontline “slow-down” is playing out as well due to low morale. He said the service is about to undergo its biggest transformation in decades.

“They’re frustrated at the lack of staffing, the lack of information around the transformation task force,” McCormack explained.

“We’ve advised our members on the street to make sure they don’t jeopardize their safety or public safety… we want them not to be going from call to call, not to be taking short cuts because it could have an impact on their safety, public safety. So when we look at that we will take any appropriate action to take care of our members and to take care of public safety.”

The union said a survey of its members found almost 70 per cent of officers agree morale is suffering and 93 per cent believe police are under-resourced.

But Mayor John Tory said the upcoming transformation has to happen in order to modernize the police service.

“I’m committed to modernizing the Toronto Police Service so we continue to be the safest major city in North America,” Tory said in a statement.

“A shift schedule that hasn’t changed in 35 years doesn’t help us effectively deploy our police service. I can’t understand why the police association doesn’t want to even discuss changing that 35-year-old schedule because I believe frontline officers are looking for change.”

In a statement, the Director of Corporate Communications for Toronto Police Services told CityNews, “we experienced one of the busiest 36-hour periods in recent memory.”

“The public would expect us to deal with the most serious calls, and get to the less serious calls as soon as we could. That is what we did.”

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