The Toronto Police Service will make changes to the way it schedules and deploys its officer as part of a new one-year pilot project that begins today.

The pilot will allow the TPS to experiment with alternative shift schedules that it says will better allow it to “align police resources with the needs of the community.”

The launch of the pilot comes after years of debate and back and forth between the Toronto Police Service and its officers’ union over the need for shift schedule changes, which were among the recommendations contained in a 2018 task force report on modernizing policing in the city.

“We have consulted experts, looked at the data and listened to our civilian and sworn members in designing a pilot that will result in our resources being deployed where and when they are needed most,” Police Chief Mark Saunders said in a press release. “This pilot is the result of a strong and sustained partnership between the Toronto Police Service, Toronto Police Services Board and Toronto Police Association to better serve the communities we are sworn to serve and protect.”

The previous schedule, which had been in effect for more than 35 years, featured three overlapping shifts which resulted in roughly the same number of front-line officers patrolling the streets regardless of the time of day

Critics said that the model left police brass unable to deploy officers when they were most needed.

In 2018, Mayor John Tory even slammed the head of the Toronto Police Association for attacking him over the need for additional officers while only paying “lip service” to schedule changes that would help ensure more cops would be on the streets when they are most needed.

Though few details have been released about the model that will be used for the pilot, the press release says that it will both result in officers being deployed “when they are needed most” while also supporting “wellness among service members.”

“We engaged our members in the process from the beginning, providing them with the information and data they needed to make an intelligent decision,” Toronto Police Association President Mike McCormack said in the press release. “Never in the history of the Toronto Police Association has the membership been so well informed and involved in a logical, transparent, and open decision-making process where their personal preferences were considered.”