Toronto Police Board rejects port’s proposal
The Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB) is willing to consider putting armed police officers at Billy Bishop airport, but rejected the Toronto Port Authority’s proposal to use private armed constables.
By Karly O'Brien
The board said it would be a liability to let “special constables” look after the airport. Port authority executives were told to work out an agreement with Toronto police and report back with their revised proposal.
Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport wants to allow their customers the convenience of clearing U.S. customs before they board their plane. According to U.S. regulations, the area must be staffed full-time with armed officers to protect custom officials.
The airport is now the nation’s ninth busiest and is expected to attract more than two million passengers this year.
“It would be a convenience for the passengers. They could be cleared here, get on the flight and when they arrive in the United States, they are already cleared,” said Geoffrey Wilson, president and CEO of the Toronto Port Authority, at a meeting of the police board posted online.
Money is the biggest issue. The Toronto police marine unit estimates 16 Toronto police constables and six sergeants at a total cost of $2.9 million, which doesn’t include the million-dollar office required.
In comparison, the private-sector’s proposal of seven full-time equivalent officers and two supervisors is roughly $800,000, according to the port chairman Mark McQueen’s letter to the board.
Eventually Wilson agreed to pay for the public officers, however, there was a dispute on how much nine police officers would cost.
Many other airports in Canada, such as Toronto’s Pearson International, already have police officers and pre-clearance for travellers to the United States.
Prior to 1982, the Toronto Harbour Police and the Port of Toronto Police were specific to the island port, however, that year they merged with the Metro police force with an understanding that the port would be provided with free security, writes McQueen.
No police officers are currently stationed at the port, but they do respond to calls there.
The city solicitor dug out the old agreement so that it could be factored in during future negotiations on June 20.