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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Toronto Police $100K club

The Toronto Police's growing "$100K club" and the general state of policing should be of concern to Torontonians.

To serve and protect?

Det. Sgt. Gary Giroux laments the lack of interest for joining the homicide squad. A Toronto Star article entitled "Is Toronto homicide squad losing its lustre?" concluded "they're in it [police work] for the prestige of promotions and the money. More than 700 - and not all high-ranking officers - pulled in $100,000-plus last year, many without the stress and aggravation associated with the homicide squad."

"Aggravation"? That's sad. When Toronto homicide detectives retire from a career of noble service, they receive a plaque with the following inscription - "No greater honour will ever be bestowed on an officer or a profound duty imposed on them than when they are entrusted with the investigation of the death of a human being."

Fewer and fewer officers will be recognized for this honour because, apparently, doing the work is "aggravation" and "to serve and protect" is becoming little more than an empty marketing tagline.

Mo' money

The Star's article "Toronto Police $100K club continues to grow" put the numbers into perspective (the comments are often as interesting as the article itself, at sites covering the article such as Urban Toronto).
  • number of officers making $100K+ is up 30% over prior year
  • "In 2004, 250 officers made $100K+. By 2006, the total nearly tripled to 708. By '08, 1,006 made the cub and by '09, 1,329"
  • "the two top-earning cops nearly doubled their salaries (base salary for a first-class constable is $87,500) in large measure by writing traffic tickets requiring frequent court appearances
  • Toronto has the highest number of radar traps in the country
Whereas policing was once somewhat of a noble institution, it appears to be giving way to capitalism at its vilest, using a position of power to exploit others for profit.

I'm not saying that police officers who put their lives on the line shouldn't be paid well; however, a system that allows officers to choose to do certain activities that directly line their pockets grossly in excess of their salary rate, at the expense of the tax payer, is a broken system that must be fixed. The badge was not intended as a license for police officers to print their own money.

Too much gravy on this train?

The Toronto Sun's Joe Warmington thinks it's time to take aim at the police budget, providing some interesting stats and asking some good questions.

"Cuts are coming and the expected reaction is to say with less officers, Toronto will become a more dangerous city. However Mukherjee has statistics showing Toronto — at 7,000 members — as being the highest per capita force at a cost of $320 per person compared to Peel at $211 and Ottawa at $217. Toronto has one officer for every 474 residents while Peel is one for every 706 and Ottawa one for every 694.
"Perhaps Toronto has more officers than necessary? With the city in debt, something has to give and efficiency and innovation are needed. For example, perhaps paid duties need to be reduced? Do we need a cop at every movie set? Could the private security world fill the void?"
Notwithstanding Mayor Ford's call for budget cuts, Police Chief Bill Blair has asked for a 3% increase to avoid laying off police staff, which would put the police services budget at $915 million, roughly 10% of Toronto's entire $9 billion budget, its largest expense.
Do we need to spend $1 billion on police services of increasingly less real detective work, which hand out more speeding tickets and stand around more construction sites?

Keep pouring

Remarkably, none other than Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's brother Doug, who was supposed to help pinch pennies, actually defended paid duty perks for Toronto police at a price tag of $5.2 million.

Police Services are paid for by the people, and should work for - not against - the people. While the police police us, who polices the police?

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