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Tory seeks to manage traffic with technology to slash policing costs

Toronto Mayor John Tory is looking for ways to keep the city's $1-billion police budget from rising.

Chris Young/The Globe and Mail

In an effort to keep policing costs down and the city's $1-billion police budget from ballooning, Toronto Mayor John Tory is considering replacing uniformed officers with technology, such as photo radar, to manage traffic.

Mr. Tory says it doesn't make sense to deploy expensive, highly trained police officers to monitor school and pedestrian zones.

"Would I pick technology over that deployment of police officers? Yes I would," he said at a press conference Monday morning at Queen's Park, following a meeting with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.

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"I think we can effectively deploy that to produce safety for our kids, and for pedestrians, for elderly people who are victimized by these accidents … and at the same time help address some of our policing challenges."

Last year there were 38 pedestrian deaths in Toronto.

In addition to the use of technology, Mr. Tory noted that cities in the United States and some in Canada employ non-police officers to "guide traffic," suggesting this could be another cost saving.

"It sounds small, but again, we deploy a lot of people doing that kind of thing. And if a lot of citizens out there ask themselves the question: Is it the best use of expensive, highly trained police officers doing that kind of work, a lot of them would say, 'No, it's not,' " he said.

The mayor said he will be formally asking Ms. Wynne for changes in legislation to give the city "the freedom" to help modernize and address the police budgetary concerns.

The soaring costs of policing in Toronto has attracted controversy, and there are calls for police reform.

Mr. Tory did not say how much the use of technology might save.

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