The Toronto Police Service has presented the federal government with a final tab of $89.2-million for its share of policing last June's G20 summit, about $55-million under the amount Public Safety Canada was willing to pay the force, Chief Bill Blair told a Police Services Board meeting Thursday.
At the same meeting, however, the chief got an earful from civil libertarians for opting to keep four sound cannons acquired for the summit.
Virtually every category of Toronto police expenditures for the summit came in under budget. Spending on salaries and overtime pay, including for officers seconded from other police forces, ate up by far the largest portion of the budget, at $47.7-million. Other large categories included spending on video and other technology ($7.9-million) and equipment ($6-million).
Chief Blair said the original budget was drawn up on a short time frame with little information, so staff planned for the worst.
He further detailed on Thursday which pieces of equipment acquired for the G20 the force has decided to keep. For such equipment, the force foots half the bill, with the rest paid for by the federal government.
These included 52 closed-circuit television cameras, fibre-optic equipment to connect the cameras to monitors in police command posts, computers, surveillance equipment and 420 gas masks. The most controversial items on the list were four long-range acoustical devices (LRADs), which can be used to scatter protesters with blasts of sound and can double as megaphones for shouting over long distances.
Chief Blair said two of the devices will be kept by the public order unit and have already been used by the Emergency Task Force since the G20 meetings in negotiations with barricaded people. One will be used by the marine unit to communicate with boats, and the last one will be lent to Toronto Fire Services.
"What is it that permits our police service to go ahead and purchase it?" asked board member Judi Cohen. "I am completely befuddled."
The board heard deputations from civil-liberties advocates who argued that the sound cannons are dangerous weapons, and urged police to wait for a report from the province before using them.
However, it appeared there was nothing the board could do to prevent police from using the LRADs. Keeping the equipment is an operational decision, like many routine equipment purchases.
"We make such expenditures daily and we don't come to the board," Chief Blair said. He defended the LRAD, saying it was to be used as a loudspeaker rather than a weapon.
The chief argued keeping some of the hardware acquired during the summit would not hurt the capital budget, as much of it was needed anyway and it would be cheaper to buy with a 50 per cent subsidy from the federal government. Video cameras, for instance, would be installed in two new police stations.