Toronto Police Chief James Ramer adjusts work shifts in January to better cope with COVID-19

Top cop has already warned about potential staff shortages

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The raging Omicron variant continues to have an impact on police staffing in the city.

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Police Chief James Ramer announced Friday in a statement that – because of increasing COVID -19 cases – divisional Priority Response Units will prepare to work 12-hour shifts, both day and night, as of January 3, 2022.

“Ensuring public safety is always our top priority and we continue to monitor the situation and make any operational adjustments to ensure our officers are where the public needs us most,” Ramer said – as he continues to work from home in isolation until  at least December 28, after testing positive for COVID-19.

He also said police have “robust staffing plans in place for situations like this to maintain frontline services.”

The adjustment  – the Chief says – will mean easier staff transitions if the service needs to adapt to the impacts of COVID-19.

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In a year-end interview with the Sun this week, the Chief said he is prepared for a significant impact on staffing due the rapidly spreading Omicron variant.

“We have to look and face the reality of potentially having 10, 20, 30, even 40 percent of our people sick at the same time.  And so that is going to pose a very difficult issue for us,” he said in the interview.

“Because of how contagious this is, the issue – in terms of people being isolated  –  is another factor that’s worse than we were faced with in the previous waves.  So all of those are contributing to the potential for us to have to face some shortages.”

Outbreaks have already had an impact on some divisions.

All police buildings have once again temporarily closed to the public – as of December 17 –  until further notice.

As it did during earlier waves of the pandemic, it is encouraging people to use online reporting services.

The closure of buildings does not apply to anyone who is attending a police facility to providing fingerprints.

As the pandemic races in a new direction and cases increase across the city “further changes and temporary redeployment of members may be required,”  Ramer’s statement said.

“The health and safety of the public and our members is of the utmost importance and we appreciate our members’ professional commitment during these unprecedented times.”

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