Mississauga’s next mayor has to balance runaway police budget with increasing complexity of crime 
Image from Peel Regional Police/Design by Joel Wittnebel/The Pointer 

Mississauga’s next mayor has to balance runaway police budget with increasing complexity of crime 

Crime data mapping by Peel Regional Police does not tell the full extent of public safety issues spilling onto Mississauga streets.


Crime during the last week of May

(Peel Regional Police)



The image above depicts crimes reported in the final week of May in Mississauga and Brampton. Assaults, auto thefts, break and enters, mischief and even drug trafficking (crystal meth in this case) are shown as dots on the map.

But the impact on residents, many of whom are growing increasingly frustrated as crimes such as auto thefts proliferate across the city, cannot be expressed by a map, no matter how many dots appear.

The City of Mississauga will elect a new mayor on June 10th—polls show Carolyn Parrish maintains the lead she’s held throughout the campaign—and many voters expect the next leader to help steer Peel Police into the future, as crime becomes increasingly complex.

The organization’s 2023 annual report shows despite large budget increases over the last 5 years, its ability to solve crimes, measured through solvency rates, has decreased, significantly. This is a glaring issue for the next mayor. 

Bonnie Crombie spent most of her time as mayor serving on the Police Services Board, a role many residents expect the head of council—the only member with a mandate from all voters—to embrace.

She took a strong stance on issues such as police carding, the budget and confronting a former chief who had lost the trust of many residents.

Crombie’s successor will first have to decide if a spot on the Peel Police Services Board is a priority, then, if they take on the responsibility, determine how to manage a  police budget that keeps residents safe, while respecting their hard-earned tax dollars. 

Reckless decisions such as Peel Police chief Nishan Duraiappah’s demand of a 14 percent budget increase for 2024 are not sustainable. A strong mayor must ask what taxpayers are getting in return. Overseas trips for the chief and other senior officers and lavish perks such as expensive personal SUVs paid for by the public do not look good when so many residents are struggling to make ends meet.  

The mayor will also have to provide governance over a force (through the board) that continues to be dogged by botched cases and officer misconduct, while structural changes to address systemic discrimination have been papered over by Duraiappah, who has been publicly connected to controversial politicians such as Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown and former police board chair Ron Chatha, who was suddenly kicked out of his position by Premier Doug Ford last year, triggering concerns over the reason for the shocking move, which has yet to be explained. 

The next mayor will have to help regain control of governance of the force, which has long been criticized by officials in the justice system and community organizations for its disturbing track record.

Meanwhile, the next head of council will also have to help create upstream solutions to help prevent crimes before they happen. Social services like mental health and addiction support and affordable housing need to be part of the public safety strategy. Critical preventative measures have largely been ignored in Peel, where the police chief has traditionally been given whatever is asked for, while funding to areas that could help reduce the need for policing in the first place has been ignored.

Work with higher levels of government will be crucial. A recently released report from Metamorphosis Network found Peel Region is underfunded $868 million annually for critical social services. 

Coordination with the provincial and federal government will also be needed to address the root causes of sophisticated crimes such as organized auto thefts, international cyber rings involved in drug trafficking and the financing of terrorism and activities involving Peel’s large global transportation network. 

To help residents understand the platforms of top candidates, The Pointer reached out to Dipika Damerla, Stephen Dasko, Parrish, George Tavares and Alvin Tedjo to get details about their plans for tackling the major public safety issues facing Mississauga. 

Similar to the surface level crime mapping data, much of what The Pointer received from candidates was thin on detail. All of them promised to tackle the auto theft crisis; take a hard look at the Peel Regional Police budget; and fight to keep city streets safer through photo radar and increased speeding patrol measures; but few offered detailed plans for how they actually planned to do this if elected. 

For example, on key public safety issues, Damerla’s plan is strong on words but weak on specifics. While acknowledging that upstream approaches need to be funded in order to abate the increasing pressure on Peel Regional Police, she says the province must be the one to fund these services. “Police need to have the resources necessary to do their jobs”, but she offers no details about how she would approach the budget discussions as a member of the Peel Police Services Board (she did not commit to taking a seat on the board) or in her continued role as a member of Peel Region Council (she will continue in that role either as the new mayor or as the Ward 7 councillor). The board position would allow her to have dialogue on key aspects of PRP’s annual financial plan including capital investments and the number of new officers hired. 

“I will not compromise when it comes to keeping our community safe and maintaining law and order,” she said.


Dipika Damerla was light on detail regarding how she would reform the police budget.

(Joel Wittnebel/The Pointer Files)


Damerla told The Pointer’s What’s the Point podcast that she is not committed to joining the Peel Police Services Board and will instead allow council to decide which member should join the board (many big city mayors have traditionally sat on the police board but it is not mandatory).

Tedjo says he will work with Chief Duraiappah and the police services board to “ensure we fund the full spectrum of supports” including frontline officers and wrap-around mental health supports; but offers no further details on whether he believes there needs to be significant changes made to the budget of the Peel Regional Police, or whether the unsustainable increases being handed to the force can continue. 

“It’s not a blank cheque, it’s not something they can keep coming back to us year after year and saying they want unlimited resources,” Tedjo told The Pointer during an interview on What’s the Point? He says he is committed to asking questions about where the police budget is being spent to ensure Peel taxpayers are getting value for their money. 

The PRP received an unprecedented 14 percent budget increase in 2024, which was an additional $74.5 million to its operating budget, bolstering it to $658.7 million. This is partially offset by $52.1 million in projected non-tax revenues—along with the police force’s capital budget (a projected $666.6 million for 2024) the total police budget is the largest expense, by far, for regional taxpayers. 

This year’s budget continues a trend of far above-inflation increases for PRP for much of the past decade, which are set to continue in the coming years. PRP anticipates future budget increases of 12.3 percent in 2025; 10.8 percent in 2026 and 8.3 percent in 2027—the new Mississauga mayor will vote on two of the budgets ahead of the 2026 municipal election.

A string of controversial budget decisions by the chief have been ignored by board members and Peel Regional councillors. Proposed staffing increases that were approved, with the public’s money handed over, appear to be unachievable under the force’s current recruitment and training capacity. Meanwhile, almost a billion dollars in approved capital spending over recent years is sitting on the books, unspent, with no explanation of what it is being used for. Other big-ticket capital projects such as a large new police building in Brampton, have come forward with a glaring lack of transparency, as taxpayers were left in the dark about costs and other key details.

Dasko says he will address the increasing challenges police are facing and work with the force to deal with the ongoing mental health crisis; he provides few details on what he would do as a member of the Peel Police Services Board. 

He wants to expand rapid response teams that attend to complex calls involving residents experiencing a range of crises. He also wants to open a new police station in Mississauga. There are no details about budget or the location. 

He will “work toward common sense integrated solutions” to the ongoing mental health crisis that sees police spending large amounts of patrol time on such calls, but offers nothing to explain what that looks like. 

He will “promote the extension of integrated approaches” to include mental health personnel. Dasko might be referring to the underfunded Mobile Community Crisis Rapid Response Teams (MCCRRT) that pair a mental health worker with a police officer to deal with mental health crisis calls. 

Peel Police finalized its Mental Health and Addiction Strategy in 2021 which led to the creation of these specialized response units that pair officers who lack specialized training to deal with those suffering mental health issues with trained crisis workers to respond to these calls with someone other than an armed, uniformed officer, whose mere presence sometimes creates further anxiety for someone already in crisis. These Mobile Community Crisis Rapid Response Teams not only help save time by allowing police to avoid lengthy delays at hospital dropping off an individual in crisis, but their expertise also helps prevent deadly confrontations like those seen in the cases of Ejaz Choudry and D’Andre Campbell. The program remains woefully underfunded by the Province, which pays for the mental health professionals, and needs to double in size to adequately meet needs, the chief has said.

No candidate offered any details or ideas to increase funding to the vital program.


Stephen Dasko is proposing a new police station in Mississauga.

(Joel Wittnebel/The Pointer Files)


Carolyn Parrish said she wants to expand Peel Police’s specialized units, referring to MCCRRT and the unit that handles intimate partner violence, but provides no specifics on how she plans to do this. 

As a member of the police board, Parrish states on her website that she would “closely monitor the ratio of officers to population in large cities and increase hires when necessary.”

Parrish is referencing what police colloquially refer to as the “cop-to-pop” ratio, or the number of officers a city has per 100,000 people. Historically, Peel Police has had one of the lowest cop-to-pop ratios of the large police forces in Canada. 

“If big city crime keeps growing here in Mississauga, then we’re gonna have to grow the police force. It will cause a budget shoot up, but we will evaluate that really carefully,” Parrish told The Pointer. 

Peel Police has one of the lowest cop-to-pop ratios of large police forces in Canada.

(Peel Regional Police)


This ratio is repeatedly referred to by Chief Duriappah during his annual budget presentations to the board and Region of Peel council. However, he makes it clear this is not a good metric for measuring the success of his organization as it does not provide the full picture of how efficiently the organization is using the resources it has. 

Relying solely on the cop-to-pop ratio—it is the only budget related comment made by Parrish on her website—means PRP would need to spend millions of dollars over the next several years on new frontline officers to even come close to police organizations with the highest ratio. It also relies on the outdated philosophy that hiring more officers will result in reductions in criminal activity and better quality police work. 

The data from Peel Police’s most recent annual report show this is far from the case. 

While the contingent of officers has grown from 2,128 in 2019 to 2,286 last year, a 7.4 percent increase, there has been no corresponding decrease in Criminal Code violations, which actually increased 28.5 percent over the same time period. Factors outside the control of PRP can drive this increase, including population growth and, for example, the explosion in auto thefts due to organized crime in the region. 

But the increased officer complement also has not helped improve the quality of the police work and the ability of officers to solve all types of crime. Between 2019 and 2023 the overall percentage of crimes solved by Peel Police dropped from 49.3 percent to 36.7. This again is more than likely partially driven by the increase in certain types of crime, such as auto thefts, which are notoriously difficult to solve. According to data from Peel police, last year saw 8,279 known auto thefts — a record for the region — up from 6,042 in 2022 and from 3,376 in 2020.

Parrish says she would like to create a trio of youth hubs in Mississauga—similar to the one she spearheaded in Malton—which provide critical services to youth and can help them find jobs, counselling and other supports to keep them away from bad decisions that can lead to recruitment by gangs or other organized crime elements. She says the Malton Youth Hub is the most successful endeavour she has undertaken throughout her political career. It would not be hard to secure private investment to help construct the facilities, she says. 

“Instead of piling money into gangs and guns on the police services board, build three more hubs in the poorer areas of Mississauga,” she said during an interview on What’s the Point? 

Parrish has shown resistance in the past to the above-average increases to the Peel Police budget. In 2019, along with former councillor Pat Saito, Parrish, in a bold and uncommon step, moved to send the police budget back to the police services board, stating the ask was too big and it needed to be reduced. The delay was unsuccessful. 


Carolyn Parrish is proposing the creation of three more youth hubs in Mississauga to provide young people with positive paths in life.

(Joel Wittnebel/The Pointer Files)


The only candidate of those contacted by The Pointer who offered a different idea for the Peel Police budget was George Tavares who is advocating for a performance-based funding model which would tie any budget increases to decreases in crime. 

“Implementing this approach will require extensive dialogue and data analysis. Without these tough conversations, we cannot effectively address the real challenges faced by our police force and the financial strain on our city will persist,” he told The Pointer. “By aligning budget increases with tangible reductions in crime, we can ensure that taxpayer money is used efficiently and that our community remains safe and prosperous.”

With the increasing number of auto thefts in Mississauga, the issue has garnered a lot of attention throughout the byelection campaign. The issue is a microcosm of the complex role municipal officials play in combatting crime. 

Municipal officials mostly act in a governance role. Police officers are the ones tracking down the criminals and trying to educate the public about this crime and how to avoid becoming a victim. Municipal officials can use City resources to amplify the message and coordinate with the private sector, or industry experts to bring them to the table to find solutions. 

Tedjo and Dasko both commit to forming such a group. Tedjo calls his a “task force”. The mandate of this group, according to Tedjo’s responses to The Pointer, would be “to target the criminals responsible for the increase in car thefts and break ins.” It’s unclear how this would work or differ from the efforts Peel Regional Police are directing toward auto thefts currently.  

Dasko commits to the formation of a permanent crime prevention committee responsible for briefing and training community watch groups and local security staff on crime prevention tactics; gathering data on crime statistics; supporting local investments in crime prevention and safety infrastructure (there are no details about budget; how these investments would be chosen or approved by council). This group would also work with Peel Police, OPP and RCMP to “help prevent crime and improve incident response”; and deliver research to support Mississauga’s lobbying efforts to upper levels of government.

Dasko does not include any details about how these efforts would be funded. Having the research, statistics and trends on hand when approaching the upper levels of government will greatly increase the City’s chances of receiving funding for any requests, but gathering this data, analyzing it and drafting reports will require consultants and funding to pay for them. 

“I'll invite neighbouring GTA cities and the Ontario auto insurance sector to join a special task force

on auto-theft,” Dasko says. “The car theft problem is both region-wide and nation-wide. We'll fight it better if we work together. More has to be done to educate the public about how to avoid becoming victims of auto theft.”

To address the auto theft crisis, Damerla says ongoing advocacy to upper levels of government is needed, including to Ottawa to “secure our ports” and move forward with bail reform and changes to the Criminal Code. She provides no specific changes she would advocate for. The federal government has already taken numerous steps over the past year to secure ports, hire more staff, use better technology to screen shipping containers and strengthen current bail conditions.

“It’s time to treat auto theft as an organized crime with tough penalties, especially for repeat offenders,” she said. Again, these are not issues within the municipal mandate and the federal government has already announced numerous changes to address a range of issues under its control. 

At the local level, Damerla proposes the creation of a $10,000 reward through Crime Stoppers for any tips that lead to a conviction for auto theft. 

“We’re going to need everyone to work together to protect our residents from auto theft,” she said.

Parrish and Tedjo also state they would advocate for changes to port monitoring and justice reforms, both of which were recommended as part of the 2024 Auto Theft Summit hosted by the Peel Regional Police. 

Tavares states he would advocate for an international trade embargo with countries where stolen vehicles are known to be imported. 

While auto thefts are clearly a problem and top of mind for many voters, numerous other complex crimes are part of the public safety file the new Mississauga mayor will inherit.

Calls to 911 increased 23 percent in the last year—and residents are having to wait close to a minute (50 seconds) on average to reach someone on the other end; a distressing reality for someone in a life or death situation. The need to call 911 stems from a wide range of problems, but intimate partner disputes are routinely the top reason for citizen-initiated calls to Peel Police—the numbers continue to rise. Other types of crime are also stretching resources. In just the last year, auto thefts are up 48 percent; robberies with a weapon up nine percent; hate crimes up seven percent; assaults are up six percent and calls for mental health crises are also up six percent. Mississauga is seeing an increase in human trafficking—the city has traditionally been a hub for this heinous crime—as well as disturbing jumps in internet child exploitation. Peel has been described as a “cash cow” for organized crime by police leaders. 

Peel Police is also in the midst of a difficult transition to undo decades of systemic racism that continues to disproportionately impact Peel’s Black community. 

As the head of council and possibly as a member of the Peel Police Services Board, the new mayor will be a critical voice in the decision making process to find solutions to public safety issues impacting residents everyday. 



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