As we said….mercenaries!

There have been three additional entries to the policing file after the ‘farewell and good luck’ published last April 1st. This is like the squeaky wheel oil won’t fix.

“Toronto police – mercenaries?” from last April highlighted a years-long concern. Most Toronto police officers do not live in the city. The posting was prompted by an earlier Toronto Star article, writer Betsy Powell’s “Many new cops don’t live in Toronto,” and while police brass claimed performance wasn’t impacted by where someone slept, and the police union underscored how expensive it was to live in the city, a University of Toronto criminologist argued the important connection between where a police officer lived and how a police officer did their job.

Freelance writer Andray Domise revisited this question with an op-ed in the Monday, January 21 Globe and Mail, “The problem with parachute policing.” To quote from this opinion, “When neighbourhood residents know their officers as invested stakeholders in the community’s fortunes, the relationship generally changes for the better.” And, “…as it stands now, the perception that officers have no stake in the community once they’ve stowed their badges and guns can only further erode resident trust of police, given the history of random street checks, brutal force applied to citizens who have committed no crime, and failure to report incidents to the civilian oversight agency.”

Last year, Peter Sloly, a former Toronto deputy chief, estimated that 80 to 85 per cent of Toronto’s cops didn’t live in the city. Toronto has a population of about three million, and a median household income of $75,270 in 2017. Police household incomes are higher than for most families in Toronto, and while we shouldn’t complain about what we pay our cops, we can expect them to be better connected to the communities they patrol, and the people who pay their bills.

Yes, housing and home ownership in Toronto is a challenge, but all the same, there are pluses and minuses in choosing to live an hour outside the city. While we must give officers some leeway in finding a home, we must also recognize the benefits for Toronto by having our police as neighbours.

Next time, back to our prison industry.

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