Thursday, February 25, 1999

John Duncanson

p. B3.

Police union 'educates' city councillors

Officials lobby for more officers, cars, pay hikes

Toronto police union officials say they hope their lobby efforts at city council yesterday will pay off in more officers, better pay and new equipment for the force.

"We think it has been very successful," said police association president Craig Bromell after he and two dozen of his officials met individually with 37 of the 57 city councillors.

"We educated them on a lot of matters and think we opened their eyes on a lot of issues," said Bromell, adding the union will return to city hall today to continue lobbying councillors.

'We opened their eyes on a lot of issues'

The councillors, for the most part said the talks were constructive, but whether the lobbying pays off during city budget talks remains to be seen.

Some councillors said they support more funding for items such as new police cars, but not all would commit to pushing for pay hikes for officers.

All those who met union officials were told the goal of the 7,000-member police association is to make Toronto the highest paid force in Canada.

Currently, the city's police officers are the highest paid in Ontario, with a first-class constable being paid $56,270 a year.

Councillors were also asked to consider financing the hiring of more officers and were asked if they felt the police services board was doing a good job for the city.

Jane Pitfield, the newest member of council representing East York, said she found the meeting useful but didn't appreciate the hostility she felt from union officials when she told them she wouldn't support a pay hike.

"I said that a soft, gentle approach would get them a lot farther," she said.

Last year, the union complained that some of the 1,400 police vehicles on the road are 10 years old and have logged well over 200,000 city kilometres.

Pitfield said pay raises for officers will have to wait until council decides what to pay city firefighters and paramedics.

David Shiner (Seneca Heights) didn't appear impressed by the union lobby. As he emerged from a meeting room yesterday, he quipped: "If they want the lobby, it's downstairs."

On of the councillors the union spent more time with yesterday than any other was Olivia Chow (Downtown) -- one of the most knowledgeable councillors when it comes to policing issues in the city. Chow said she raised her own issues with the union.

These included asking them if they would support a policy of making all recruits live in the city as a condition of employment.

She said the union didn't seem enthusiastic about her suggestion.

But another idea, to have the union spend some money on officer training wasn't shot down, Chow said.

The union expects to meet at least six councillors today, including Judy Sgro, the vice-chair of the police services board.

Toronto Police clippings... [Fiona Stewart]

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

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