police labour unrest first re-
ported in NOW last week is now being described by one T.O. daily newspaper as a full-blown work-to-rule campaign.
But it gets worse for Chief Julian Fantino. If we're to believe a two-page opinion piece published in the latest issue of the police union magazine, Tour Of Duty, there's "a great level of dissatisfaction within the ranks of experienced officers" over changes imposed by the chief since he took over.
"Changes to our work schedule, our uniform and our job descriptions have left members of the service wondering what is happening to the force they once knew so well," says the article submitted without a byline by a member of the force.
(Toronto Police Association honcho Craig Bromell, away this week, was unavailable for comment. TPA vice-president Jack Ritchie did not respond to repeated requests for comment. The chief's liaison, staff inspector Bruce Smollet, also declined to comment.)
The magazine piece paints a decidedly unflattering picture of the force. It's a police service without a vision, whose preference for inexperienced officers "militant in appearance and outlook and reactive rather than proactive" is ill-suited for culturally and ethnically diverse Toronto.
"In our often tight-knit ethnic communities whose populace places heavy reliance on interpersonal relations," the article says, "a distant and reactive force that just shows up to "tag 'em and bag 'em' will not be welcome."
The article goes further. It contends that police resources are being used improperly and that "the reorganizing and redistribution of special units undertaken in the name of getting more cops on the street have resulted in worst-case scenarios. Officers with unique knowledge of gang behaviour (and) organized crime are spending hours writing accident reports for minor (occurrences) in the field."
The article says the chief's other, more highly publicized campaigns, like his clampdown on traffic violators, are also threatening to undermine community support among "the last segment of society that supports police -- the middle class."
How deep-seated is rank-and-file resentment toward Fantino? According to the article, it's serious enough to cause "many" to opt for early retirement or to move to other forces.
Police services board chair Norm Gardner says he has concerns of his own about officers deciding to leave the service early. More than 1,400 officers are currently eligible for retirement, he says, and it will take the force four years to train enough new recruits just to replace them.
Gardner's also heard the grumbling about Fantino. He says most of the complaints seem to be coming from long-time officers who believe they've paid their dues but have been ordered back into uniform to pump up front-line ranks.
"Some have questioned some of the things the chief has done," Gardner says, "but I think everybody understands that the chief is just trying to do things for the betterment of the service. There are a lot of guys who don't see the broader picture."
At downtown's 52 Division, unit commander Aiden Maher, who has served under eight different chiefs of police, says there's always a resistance to change within every organization. In the end, though, he says changes instituted by Fantino have put more cops in cars out in the street.
"I test the mood of my officers, and if I were to say that every one of them is happy I'd be a liar," says Maher. "To say there's a morale problem, I would say no. I would say there's an adjustment to change."