Friday, June 25, 1999

John Duncanson

p. B1.

Boothby takes aim at bosses

Senior officers 'demoralized' by criticism

In a rare public show of defiance, Toronto police chief David Boothby has lashed out at his civilian bosses for their demoralizing attacks on his senior commanders and the way the force is run.

"I have a group of senior officers who work very hard, who are very committed and work very long hours, and for people to say that there are too many of them … is very unproductive," Boothby told the monthly meeting of the Toronto Services Board yesterday.

"I think it's destructive, misleading and demoralizing — it really is," said Boothby, who received thunderous applause from senior officers in the room following his address to the board.

Boothby's speech, however didn't dissuade the board from finalizing plans yesterday for a task force that will study the structure of the police hierarchy and come up with a final report by February, before he officially retires.

While he didn't mention names, Boothby told the board he was upset by recent comments by some board members who said they felt that five deputy chiefs are too many to manage the force.

He provided the board with statistics that show over the past seven years police brass have voluntarily thinned their own senior ranks by nearly 40 per cent from 131 officers in 1991 to 80 at the end of last year.

Several layers of senior ranks have been cut or done away with altogether, which has increased the workload on his five deputy chiefs, Boothby said.

During the same period, the number of uniformed officers, which include the ranks from constable up to staff sergeant, dropped about 11 per cent from 5,666 in 1991 to 5,043 in 1998, Boothby said.

"When I hear sometimes that we have too many deputies, too much flab, I don't think it's fair," Boothby said.

Councillor Olivia Chow (Downtown), who was sworn in yesterday as the newest member of the board, praised Boothby and the rest of the force for their efforts that have resulted in a dramatic drop in the city's crime rate.

But on her first day on the job, it was Chow who, behind closed doors, drafted the restructuring task force's agenda.

It calls for the hiring of a consultant in August with the view to having the task force's preliminary findings ready by December. Board members Chow, Judy Sgro, Jeff Lyons and Emila Valentini will sit on the committee.

Police ranks under review

Task force will have input on chief's successor

The final report to the full seven-member police board will be delivered in January and reviewed by the senior command. The whole process should be finished by the time Boothby retires.

Sgro, vice-chair of the board, told Boothby that at the end of their review the board may discover that the force is not top-heavy and cuts won't be needed.

"But I think it's healthy to sit back from time to time and look at these things," said Sgro, who wants to chair the task force.

The police board also met behind closed doors yesterday to discuss the issue of selecting the next chief, including who will be used as consultant to come up with a short list of candidates.

A decision on the consultant will be made soon. The final vote won't be held until this fall, giving the new chief time for a smooth transition of power before Boothby leaves in February.

Although no one has formally applied for the job, the front-runner from inside the police services is Deputy Chief Mike Boyd, should he decide to run.

Those being talked about as possible contenders from outside the force are Calgary police Chief Christine Silverberg and Julian Fantino, the top cop in York Region and a former senior officer with the Toronto service.

Both have yet to say whether they will apply for the job.

So far, the board is split on whether it should go the traditional route and hire from within, or bring in new blood from the outside for the first time in the force's 42-year history.

The police union also plans to get involved in the selection, and is actively campaigning to ensure the job goes to one of its own. Sources say its choice so far is Boyd.

Whoever gets the job will likely have to promise the board that he or she will go along with any restructuring plan that might be approved.

Some board members have quietly expressed their wish that whoever becomes chief will stand up publicly to the powerful police union and its popular boss, Craig Bromell.

Toronto Police clippings… [Fiona Stewart]

Created: October 9, 2000
Last modified: October 9, 2000
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