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Ford’s police pledge causes a fuss

Following through on a campaign promise, Mayor Rob Ford has vowed to hire 100 more police officers as soon as he finds the cash.

Following through on a campaign promise, Mayor Rob Ford has vowed to hire 100 more police officers as soon as he finds the cash.

Police officials are reticent to publicly refuse additional manpower, but those in high-ranking circles are questioning why the tight-fisted mayor made the costly pledge without con­sult­ing the service, its union or its board, about whether more officers are needed.

Since 2005, crime is down across Toronto by about 30 per cent. Over that same period, the force has been struggling to get hold of its worsening financial crisis.

Last year, the police board was left no choice but to defer millions in reserve payments in order to balance a bare-bones $900 million budget. That number is up $40 million from the previous year due almost entirely to salary commitments.

Wages and benefits account for 90 per cent of the police budget, which is also the largest item in Toronto’s $9.2 billion operating budget.

The mayor and his team have estimated the new officers would cost the city $15 million a year, which includes salaries, training and equipment.

“Adding 100 more officers at this point would only worsen the problem,” said one top official.

“There are much better uses for additional funds Mr. Ford could offer.”

For one, in three years the service’s strained budget is already scheduled to take a $4 million hit, when federal funding for 38 recent recruits expires, the official said.

 
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