TORONTO —; Controversial comments made by Deputy Chief Peter Sloly on cost-cutting measures to stream-line an “unfocused” Toronto police force has at least some support from Mayor John Tory.
“I actually agree and so does the KPMG study with a lot of the things that have been put forward, as changes are needed to be examined on the context on how we do policing,” Tory told reporters at Toronto City Hall on Tuesday.
“That is why this task force has been set up … It’s a serious exercise. It’s an exercise that has to happen. It’s an exercise that will happen. Decisions will be taken as a result of those deliberations and changes will be made.”
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Sloly hosted a 70-minute online Q&A session last Friday, where he delivered candid criticisms of the Toronto Police Service’s policing model, spending and what he called its slow embrace of technology and social media.
“We run around all over the city in the most unfocused way, reacting to what you call us for, as opposed to trying to understand what’s going on and … putting our most important resources in the best place,” Sloly said.
The KPMG report released last month issued a series of recommendations to ring in spending such as reducing premium pay, outsourcing parking enforcement, HR, IT and finance positions.
“A lot of the substance on what Deputy Chief Sloly had to say were things that were in the KMPG report,” Tory said. “Things that have been discussed on a preliminary basis by the Police Services Board.”
City Councillor Shelley Carroll said Sloly shouldn’t be considered “insubordinate” for saying the changes should be made sooner rather than later.
“Here’s someone saying, ‘I’m willing to say the unpopular thing about change,’ and the board has tasked the chief with change —; maybe this is your agent, maybe this is the guy who goes out and makes those changes for you,” said Carroll, who is also a Toronto Police Services Board member.
“Since he really just talked about all of the changes that are clearly outlined in the KPMG report that the board has already made public and endorsed, why would we be dismissing someone who echoes our words?”
Toronto Police Association President Mike McCormack has disputed the KPMG report as laden with inaccuracies and bloated with concepts that are not substantiated by numbers.
The union representing frontline Toronto police officers has since asked the police chief, police board and an independent watchdog to investigate Deputy Chief Peter Sloly for his comments.
“The thing about Peter Sloly is he’s progressive and willing to think of different kinds of ways,” Toronto Police Accountability Coalition member John Sewell said.
“There’s no question some staff people don’t like that, they find that threatening.”
The police services board recently green-lit a 2.76 per cent budget increase for 2016, which pushes the overall budget north of $1 billion for the first time with nearly 90 per cent of the budget going towards salaries and benefits.
Mayor Tory said the task force looking into budgetary changes to the Toronto Police Service will issue its final report by June of next year.
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“I will say finally, move ahead with actually making some of the changes that have to be made in policing,” Tory said.
“Not even so much as budget pressures on their own but because it’s 2016. And 2016 is a time when policing needs and policing methods are going to be different than they were in 1986 or 1966.”
With files from Caryn Lieberman, Steve Morales and Erica Vella