Wednesday, February 24, 1999

John Duncanson

p. B3.

Police union officials set to lobby Toronto councillors

Some officials of Toronto's powerful police union will be descending on City Hall today to sell their vision of law and order.

Today and tomorrow, 24 officials from the Toronto Police Association will be lobbying councillors -- including some of the harshest critics -- as part of an aggressive campaign to win support for their views on policing issues.

So far, about 40 of the 57 city councillors have agreed to meet with the union, including police services board vice-chair Judy Sgro, who has been targeted by the association in the past for her statements about the force.

"We're there to hear what they have to say about law and order," said Craig Bromell, president of the 7,000 member association.

Some of the issues the police association wants to discuss with councillors include staffing levels, salaries, and concerns about aging equipment.

Bromell may also meet with Mayor Mel Lastman during the two-day campaign at City Hall to discuss ongoing concerns about police funding.

It's the first time association members have lobbied Toronto councillors, although they have already spoken with politicians at the provincial and federal levels as part of the association's attempt to flex its political muscle.

But one of the issues that will likely be front and centre when the union meets with the politicians is its dissatisfaction with the Toronto Police Services Board.

Pressure has been mounting on the board, which oversees the force and its $500 million budget to take more control over leadership of the Toronto force.

This week, police board chair Norm Gardner said he was going to direct Chief David Boothby to respond more quickly to queries and requests for information from the board, made during their monthly meetings.

Last year, the police union threatened to target municipal politicians it saw as anti-cop with advertising campaigns and lawsuits.

The strategy caused an uproar and Bromell said that concerns won't be on the agenda during this week's meeting.

Last month, the union took flak for an attempted coup that saw board member Jeff Lyons, a Tory fundraiser and lawyer, nearly replace Sgro as vice-chair.

The association has said it had nothing to do with the attempted switch.

Toronto Police clippings... [Fiona Stewart]

Created: March 6, 1999
Last modified: March 8, 1999

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