Toronto's Deadly Weekend Is Dividing The Police And The Union
One thing they can agree on is that there is a problem.
One particularly disturbing trend is front of mind for Toronto right now. After a weekend of Toronto gun violence and , there has been much outcry about how to tackle the problem. Now, Toronto's police chief and the police association appear to be at odds over just how to handle the aftermath of these shootings.
Last weekend, 17 people were shot in the city in 11 separate incidents. In reaction to the spate of violence, The Toronto Police Association believes there needs to be more hiring.
The association says the police force is down 900 officers over the last 10 years. They believe this plays a large role in how effective policing can be in the city.
The union has long advocated for more officers in Toronto's police force because of the impacts that understaffing are having on the safety of civilians and police officers.
"When you're understaffed you have limited resources. You have to start saying [that] you cannot do more with less in policing," Mark McCormack, president of Toronto Police Association, told Narcity.
According to the Toronto Police Service crime statistics, as of Sunday, there have been 244 shootings in the city with 365 victims in 2019 so far. Compare that to this same time last year, when the number of shootings was 238 and there were 324 victims.
While the increased number of victims is obviously a concern, the overall shootings figure is barely different from last year, and McCormack insists this weekend's spike was just that - an anomaly.
"This is not a 2019 issue because we had 17 people shot [last weekend]," he said.
But Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders doesn't want people to think that it was a normal weekend in the city and while gun violence is an issue, Toronto is still a safe place to live.
Saunders said in a press conference that because of the uptick of gun violence in the city, officers will be redeployed and more will be added to the night shift.
"These are folks that I have that can work anywhere across the city. We look at the city as a whole and not as 17 different compartments the way [McCormack] looks at it, and we say 'where are the big issues right now, where do we have to go'," said Saunders.
McCormack doesn't agree that is the way to handle gun violence and policing in Toronto.
"I don't know where you're going to get those police officers to redeploy because we just don't have them," he said.
It's apparent public knowledge that Toronto Police is lacking a sufficient amount of officers. At the beginning of this year, its budget was increased to $3 billion in large part due to the need to hire new officers. In June, 129 police recruits graduated into the Toronto Police Service.
But some are arguing it's not enough and McCormack wants the "other side" to realize that more people are needed in the police force to effectively keep the city safe.
"The bottom line is that the public deserves a high level of security and professionalism," said McCormack.
Narcity has reached out to Chief Mark Saunders for comment. This article will be updated if there is a response.