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Quick Hits, Volume XLIII -- Toronto Police Labour Dispute

The Toronto Police are in the midst of a labour dispute about money. I don't have a firm opinion on their demands yet. On the one hand, the Toronto Police do appear to be among the best paid anywhere. On the other hand, contract changes that reduce pay and demand more work would give anyone reason to protest. The details are a bit complicated since a decent-sized raise package is being combined with clawbacks and other adjustments.

On the other hand, it is obviously inappropriate for the police to march in protest while in uniform and armed. As the chief said: "The police uniform and the firearm that we carry are symbols of our legal authority. These symbols cannot be used and that authority cannot be used -- to advance private interests."

I also found it ironic to see Tie Domi as poster boy for police supporters. The findings of the Toronto Computer Leasing Inquiry directly imply that Domi commited perjury to help cover up the bribe his brother paid Tom Jakobek to help secure a lucrative contract for his employer and a huge commission for himself.

That same Toronto Sun article offers a decent review of the state of negotiations. I'm not sure why the union wants to avoid arbitration, unless they feel they can win a political pressure battle. The uglier it gets, the more likely there are to lose, I think. It is hard to argue that arbitration is unfair.

In the end, everything comes down to money. The police want more money for each officer. To hire new officers or buy more equipment also costs money. The more you spend on salaries, the less you can spend on hiring or buying. Increases to the overall police budget mean cuts elsewhere or additional tax hikes.

So, contrary to the police union slogan, getting tough on crime and getting tough on cops are not mutually-exclusive concepts. A lower salary increase means more money to hire more officers. Taxpayers should demand the best value that they can get while still being fair. That's the Police Services Board's responsibility.

I think that raises keeping up with the cost of living in Toronto should be enough to satisfy the cops, but negotiation or arbitration will eventually lead to a deal. The contract details are obscure enough that it is hard for me to tell whether or not the offer does keep up with the cost of living in Toronto.

On a related note, I felt that Adam Radwanski's recent column on gun-gang-drug crime in Toronto was pretty good.

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