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Local Groups Want To Use $340M Of The Toronto Police Budget To Change Who Responds To 911

They say support workers should be more involved.
Toronto Police Should Revamp & Re-Allocate Money For 911 Response, Say Community Groups

A report called "Rethinking Community Safety," published by nearly two dozen Toronto community groups, is calling on Toronto Police to overhaul their 911 response system.

The report specifically mentions homelessness, mental health, gender-based violence, and youth crime as issues that should be dealt with by civilian specialists instead of police officers.

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Dispatchers at 911 could be dispatching civilian responses in asignificant number of calls. Rethinking Community Safety

Making the changes would require the reallocation of approximately $340 million, which accounts for roughly 27% of last year's TPS budget.

The 24-page report says support workers should be responding to incidents that involve members of Toronto's vulnerable populations, as police presence often escalates a situation and leads to violence within itself. 

In a statement emailed to Narcity, a TPS spokesperson said that police were reviewing the report and would have more to say in the coming weeks when they put forward the 2021 TPS budget.

Addressing the report at a press conference on Monday, Mayor John Tory said he supported the idea of involving support workers in traditional police work but said it had to be done "compassionately and carefully."

"If the police aren't the best way to do it, pursuant to this commitment to reform, then we'll find better ways to do it and then we will reduce the police budget accordingly," Tory said.

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