Toronto is safe, and police union shouldnt spread fear: Editorial

Toronto is a remarkably safe city, and the tough day-to-day work carried out by thousands of police officers is a big part of keeping it that way.Yet the Toronto Police Association, the bargaining agent for the city’s approximately 5,100 officers, is acting in a way that risks undermining public trust in the force and creating unnecessary concern about how safe the city really is.Union president Mike McCormack declared this week that his members are at a “crisis point” due to overwork caused by staffing and budget cuts.The union launched a website to draw attention to the fact that Toronto has 500 fewer officers than it did back in 2010. McCormack warned that officers are leaving the Toronto force in droves because of stress and low morale and said that’s causing concern about “the potential to public safety and officer safety.”At the same time, he advised officers to make sure they take proper lunch breaks and don’t rush to meet an “arbitrary timeline” – a barely disguised call to work to rule.Article Continued BelowMcCormack has a very specific job to do in representing his union membership. But all this amounts to scare-mongering at a time when there’s no hard evidence that public safety is being compromised. The union ought to cut it out.For his part, Chief Mark Saunders has dismissed these claims as a “sound bite” he’s heard before and disputes any suggestion that rank-and-file police officers are on the edge.And Saunders points out that, regardless of what the union says, all signs are that officers are acting professionally and not doing anything that would put public safety at risk. That’s to their credit – especially at a time when police are at the centre of controversies ranging from whether they’re welcome at the Pride parade to how well they handle confrontations involving people with mental health issues.