More from Joe Warmington
February 15, 2018
February 15, 2018 9:20 PM EST
Toronto Police Association president Mike McCormack (ERNEST DOROSZUK/TORONTO SUN)
The Toronto Police Association’s executive is asking its 7,500 members if they have confidence in Chief Mark Saunders.
“The question went out electronically to the membership today,” TPA president Mike McCormack told the Toronto Sun.
Citing poor morale, cuts in staff and unrealistic expectations from the Transformational Task Force, officers and civilians will have a chance to express their feelings on the chief’s performance.
“It is a vote of confidence or non-confidence,” said the police union president. “We will see what the members decide. I don’t want to be here, but they put us here.”
He said an independent third party will “tabulate the votes and reveal how the members voted.”
McCormack added: “I think it’s going to be damning toward the chief but it won’t be the executive deciding that. It will the members.”
So far, the Toronto Police have not commented on this move by the TPA. But Mayor John Tory spoke up in support of Saunders, who will have been in the job for three years in April.
“I have complete confidence in Chief Mark Saunders,” said Tory.
Saying “Toronto is the safest city in North America thanks to the hard work of the members of the Toronto Police Service,” Tory remains “committed to the plan to modernize the Toronto Police Service and know the chief is dedicated to addressing the concerns which always arise when significant change takes place.”
Tory also cited “more than 80 new police officers are being hired and staffing is being significantly increased at 911 (dispatch). Responsibilities are being taken on by the city so police officers can be deployed where they are needed most instead of directing traffic or answering noise calls.”
The mayor also said he “strongly believes continuing constructive discussion is far preferable to billboards and online votes as a way to address genuinely held concerns on the part of our police officers.”
But McCormack countered his comments “are insulting to our members” since he talks about “80 new hires when he knows 81 have left in the last six weeks.”
The ones deciding on whether they have confidence in Saunders will be the officers and civilians who actually do police work — not a politician with “his own stake in the way things are, too,” said McCormack.
The bad feelings have boiled over in recent months thanks to a series of issues, including what officers feel is a lack of staff on shifts and a lack of support on issues like carding and street checks.
“It’s time for Mayor Tory to man up and stop dismissing our members and what is really going on,” insisted McCormack. “Maybe the mayor should push around a police car or work the 911 desk for two weeks before he talks about having confidence. We want him to stop ignoring what he knows is real and instead fix it.”
The vote total will be known next week.
WARMINGTON: Police union subjects chief to non-confidence vote | Toronto Sun