Toronto Police Accountability Bulletin No. 62, July 25, 2011.
This Bulletin is published by the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition, a group of individuals and organizations in Toronto interested in police policies and procedures, and in making police more accountable to the community they are committed to serving. Our website is http://www.tpac.ca
In this issue:
1. Latest figures on Toronto strip searches
2. Presenting to the G20 Review, and responding to questions
3. Police Boards: training and oversight
4. TPACs policing forum
5. Collective agreement approved
6. Wheres that name badge?
7. The Chief reviews police activities at the G20
8. Subscribe to the Bulletin
1. Latest figures on Toronto strip searches
At the July 21 meeting of the Toronto Police Services Board, Chief Bill Blair reported on recent strip searches. In 2009, Toronto police conducted 29,789 Level 3 searches (whats usually known as a strip search), and 31,072 in 2010. The number of individuals arrested in each year has not yet been reported, but the number arrested in 2007 was just over 52,000. Crime has fallen since then, so the number arrested in each year is probably less than 50,000.
This means that about 60 per cent of those arrested by Toronto police in the last two years were subject to a Level 3 search, a strip search.
The Supreme Court of Canada generally defined how the Court saw the law on this issue in the Golden case, a 2001 decision. http://scc.lexum.org/en/2001/2001scc83/2001scc83.html (See particularly paragraphs 89 99.) Specifically, the court stated that strip searches cannot be a matter of routine policy. If something happens more than half the time, its clear it is considered `routine. For Toronto police, the strip search has become routine, being used on about 60 per cent of those arrested. Thats contrary to the Supreme Court of Canada decision.
The Court decision also notes that the strip search must be for evidence related to the grounds of arrest or for weapons, and that reasonable and probable grounds for discovering something in the strip search must be established before it takes place. But the Chief reports that more than two thirds of the time, nothing was found when a Level 3 search was conducted. In short, in two thirds of the Level 3 searches, there were no reasonable grounds for undertaking the strip search in the first place. This is contrary to what the Supreme Court of Canada has stated.
TPAC again asked the Board to change its policy requiring police first to do a level 2 (a serious frisk search) and only if that search shows `Reasonable and probable grounds of finding something, that a Level 3 search be undertaken. TPACs position if fully set out in Bulletin No. 61.
Chief Blairs response was that doing something 60 per cent of the time did not constitute a routine. Routine would be 100 per cent, he said, looking very defensive. The Board asked for another report from the chief on the policy, and the practise, specifically whether the preliminaries leading to the strip search might be video-taped.
2. Presenting to the G20 Review
TPAC presented a brief to the Review established by the Toronto Police Services Board, headed by former judge John Morden, in mid June. It said:
The Review has requested briefs in respect to the role of civilian oversight with respect to the policing of major events. Our brief addresses this question with specific reference to the problems that occurred during the G20 meetings in Toronto at the end of June 2010, with a specific focus on what must be done to ensure police actions such as this do not re-occur.
a. Defining the job that police are asked to do
Police and political leaders have made statements since June 2010 that the police job was to protect the G20 leaders and they defend police actions by stating that since nothing adverse happened to world leaders, the police fulfilled their mandate and accomplished their job.
However, that definition of the police job at the G20 is much too narrow. The police had several other jobs to do as well, such as
* ensuring that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was upheld. Police did not uphold the Charter. Many officers broke it by searching and arresting people without probable cause or reason (several people reported to me that they were stopped and searched on streetcars and while walking to Allan Gardens on Friday June 25th), and strip searching many at the temporary detention centre on Eastern Avenue as a form of intimidation.
* protecting people from violence. Police did not protect individuals from violence, in fact they caused many personal injuries, and took decisions to manage crowds by `kettling that endangered people further. For example, I was a head marshal at the June 25th march, and was informed of at least two incidents involving police attacks against march participants that day. In addition, we were arbitrarily stopped by the police from marching south of Elm Street on University Avenue, and were suddenly confronted by a line of officers wearing riot gear and banging on their shields, who forced a crowd of 3 4000 people into a narrow side street and surrounded them, causing panic and chaos. Officers we had been working with throughout the march were visibly upset at the intrusion of a different police service and were overheard asking who was responsible for the order and who was in charge. The officer who had up until that point been working with us to guide the march was furious and threw a water bottle to the ground in disgust. Fortunately the crowd was unified and we managed to steer people back to our starting point with little incident, no thanks to the police.
* protecting private property from damage. Police did not protect private property from damage, in fact they told store owners who called when their windows were being smashed and goods stolen by individuals that they would not respond and that store-owners were on their own. Police did not respond to these calls for help.
Quite simply, the police did not have a good handle on what their role was. This is a leadership problem. The civilians responsible for police oversight and senior police leaders were not clear about the job to be done, or they mislead officers as to their role. This is a major failing of those responsible for good policing, both inside the police force and those with an oversight role.
b. The role of police culture
Police culture played a very significant role in how events unfolded at the G20. Whenever such a large number of officers are present, the dominant police culture of solidarity, violence, little respect for civilians, little regard for the niceties of the law, takes over and infects the whole operation. All these aspects of police culture were very plainly on display during the G20.
Those responsible for civilian oversight and police managers did nothing to prevent this from occurring. One small sign of this failure is that many officers refused to display their mandatory identification. A larger sign of the failure is that many officers claim they never saw any of the wrong-doing their fellow officers were committing. Many examples of the ugly aspects of police culture have been cited by many sources, and it shows the ineffectiveness of those responsible for civilian oversight and police management.
c. The general lack of effective civilian oversight of policing
Some will argue that civilian oversight cannot extend to police operations. We quarrel with that argument on the simple grounds that if the oversight body cannot control behavior, then it cant exercise any reasonable control.
But what no one will argue with is that civilian oversight should control the spending of public money. In the case of the G20, those responsible for civilian oversight showed a complete lack of interest in financial issues. A total of $510 million was spent on policing the G20 an astounding amount given that the cost of security for the G8/G20 summit held 6 months earlier in Pittsburgh, PA was $12.2 million.
Some information is available about contracts between local police forces and the RCMP, courtesy sleuthing by the CBC. It reveals that the cost of employing a single officer for the two days of the G20 (most contracts were for just two days of service) was in the order of $7 10,000, or more than $3000 a day. The amounts paid for some contracts are as follows:
Charlottetown, 6 officers, $52,000 ; Edmonton, 40 officers, $342,300 ; Surete du Quebec, 253 officers, $2,747,000 ; Montreal, 278 officers, $3,357,000 ; Regina, 6 officers, $49,600;
Thunder Bay, 8 officers, $69,000 ; Vancouver, 16 officers, $137,000 ; North Bay, 8 officers, $57,000 ; Saint John, 6 officers, $43,600 ; Niagara, 14 officers, $109,000 ; Saskatoon, 13 officers, $100,000 ; Ottawa, 40 officers, $119,000.
The Barrie police force provided 24 hour security for the G20 command centre in Barrie for 13 days at a cost of $70,000. The Hamilton police force provided one officer for the period May 22 to July 1 at a cost of $31,560.
By any standard these are unreasonable amounts of money, and we can understand why some officers have bragged about how well they did financially by being part of the G20.
Where was police leadership and civilian oversight on these expenditures? Surely both should have been speaking out, whether on the RCMP and federal side at the costs incurred, or on the local side about the windfalls involved. But all have been silent. It is fair to say that in financial terms there was no reasonable police leadership, and no civilian oversight.
d. The right to know the law
Once the Toronto police were active in policing the G20, it was clear that they were using some laws that no one knew about a regulation they had applied for and received from the provincial government, in secret. As it turned out, the police themselves didnt quite know what the law restricted or what its impact actually was. On this issue there was a failure by police leadership to be open and transparent, a failure on the part of civilian oversight at the city to ensure the chief was acting under civilian control, and a failure of civilian oversight at the provincial level.
What should be done?
We would argue that what the police did during the G20 was simply following their normal modus operandi, but this time it was written very large and rather than just affecting the dispossessed at the bottom end of the social structure, impacted on middle class people who dont expect these kinds of things to happen. Certainly our experience as a group that has paid attention to policing issues for more than a decade is that the four issues noted above are visible on a day to-day basis.
This Review promises to deal with matter stemming from the G20, and accordingly we hope that it will address and propose changes for the following clear problems:
" a lack of good management within police forces
" the dominance of a destructive police culture
" a lack of useful civilian oversight.
Unless these three issues are addressed, good policing at big events like the G20 or on a day-to-day basis in a big city, will not be achieved.
Is this Review addressing these three issues? Has it requested research on these issues, and if so, can that research be accessed and commented on before the Review makes recommendations?
If indeed these are issues the Review will deal with and if our group can be given some idea of the approaches the Review hopes to take, then we would be prepared to provide detailed suggestions as to the changes which should be made regarding police leadership, police culture, and civilian oversight. These are weighty subjects that are rarely addressed by those in official positions, which is why we need assurances that the Review is in fact dealing with them before we engage in a fuller discussion.
3. Police Boards: training and oversight
Following Anna Willats presentation of our brief to the G20 Review, the Review asked TPAC to advise on two questions:
(1) What type of training should members of police civilian oversight bodies, like the Toronto Police Services Board, receive in order to discharge the statutory mandate as outlined in the Police Services Act? Should members of the Board be required to have any particular expertise in order to be appointed?
(2) There are many who say that it is very important for a civilian oversight body, like the Toronto Police Services Board, to have some division from operations. Some even suggest that it may be problematic to have civilians directing or influencing police operations. Does your organization believe that there should be any division between policy and operations from a civilian oversight perspective, and if so, can you provide the broad contours of what that division would look like in practice?
TPAC responded as follows:
A. Training of police Board members.
We believe that training should be carried out in large part by external individuals who are knowledgeable about policing and who have demonstrated that they are effective teachers. We think criminology schools should be encouraged to offer courses tailored to police board members, and Boards should budget to send members to such courses.
Training should be both about policing issues (far too few police board members have much knowledge about how policing works or the challenges it offers) and about effective governance.
a) Training Board members about police - issues to be addressed:
1. Police culture and police associations
2. The nature of racial profiling and other equity issues
3. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the role of police in upholding it
4. Police and people with mental health issues and addictions
5. Conflict resolution
6. Disciplining police internally what works, what doesnt
7. Police complaint mechanisms
8. Statistics about crime and police
b) Training Board members about governance issues to be addressed
1. An introduction to the Police Services Act
2. Overseeing an operating division of local government: what it means and entails
3. The difference between managing the managers and managing the rank and file
4. Playing an effective role in managing policy
5. Collective bargaining and what is in a collective agreement with police, i.e. basic pay, shift schedules and pay, duty pay, retention pay, other perks.
6. Encouraging and supporting public input
7. Encouraging and supporting public debate on important police issues
8. Making accountability to the public a reality
9. Tips for establishing and maintaining transparency and positive relationships with managers
B. Expertise of Board members
We believe that members of police boards should have a range of talents and experiences, much like a jury has a range of talents and experiences. There should be no special focus on lawyers or other professionals, for example. However, we do think that the basic training we outline above should be offered to all board members.
We also think that police boards in Ontario are generally too small. Size is limited by the Police Services Act. Most boards are just three members, some are five, and Toronto is allowed seven members. These numbers should be substantially increased if we want to have strong and intelligent boards with a range of experience. We suggest the basic board be seven members, and that for municipalities with more than 100,000 residents, boards should be between 11 and 15 members.
C. The Boards relationship to a municipal police force
The Police Services Act gives broad powers to the board in Section 31 (powers that a local committee is given in Section 31(5) with respect to OPP officers working there.) The big restriction is in day-to-day matters, and that is a normal restriction for every board of directors: a board of directors is there to manage the managers, not to jump over the managers and do their managing for them. With that in mind, our comments are in two parts: during times of normal policing; and during major public order incidents such as emergencies, disasters, and riots.
a) Relations during times of ordinary policing
1. The Board is responsible for managing the manager, that is, the chief. (In a large force like Toronto, it makes sense that managing should extend to the deputy chiefs as well, while recognizing that the chief is the senior operational manager. The Police Services Act should be amended to make this clear for police forces employing more than 2 300 individuals. It makes no sense to say that with a police force of more than 5000 members, the Board only has access to the chief.)
This means the Board:
a) oversees and is responsible for the policies by which the managers manage
b) oversees and is responsible for the managers approach to management and the processes involved
c) determines expenditure by department and/or major divisions
d) sets priorities for change within the organization
e) ensures effective discipline mechanisms are in place and that they are followed.
These are the normal functions of any board of directors of a municipal institution, and they should apply to police boards.
2. The Board is not involved in internal management that is the responsibility of the senior managers.
3. Senior managers are accountable to the Board, that is, they must account to the Board for their actions and decisions.
4. The Board should constantly keep itself informed of how the managers are managing.
5. All police activities should be subject to review by the board after the fact.
b) During a major public order incident
Since there are unusual decisions to be made by senior managers during such incidents, the chair of the board and appropriate local representatives should be present and available to police managers, and managers should keep the chair of the board and/or appropriate local representatives informed of major decisions being taken so those individuals can offer advice and support. Studies show that there is a tradition of this back-and-forth occurring in many jurisdictions, and it makes sense to formally recognize these interactions.
4. TPACs policing forum
About 100 people attended TPACs policing forum on June 20 at 519 Church Street Community Centre. The meeting will begin with brief remarks on four issues:
Challenging police culture; Alternatives to how police deal with young people; Ending sexist, racist and other inequitable police practices; Where to cut money in policing.
We then broke into groups to discuss each topic to talk about actions. Discussion was lively, the crowd was engaged, and lots of ideas were put on the table.
The steering committee will be looking at these ideas over the summer, and presenting a package to discuss at the next forum, which we are scheduling for the evening of Tuesday October 18. Please reserve the date. Well publish details of the October 18 session in our next Bulletin.
5. Collective agreement approved
The Toronto Police Services Board approved collective agreements with the Toronto Police Association and other employee groups at a private meeting on June 9. The agreements provide wage increases of about 11 per cent over four years and estimated increased costs for 2012 of about $23 million.
TPAC had asked that the Board not approve agreements unless it loosened language to allow management to reduce the necessity of two-officers cars after dark, and it permitted a substantial change to the shift schedule arrangement. (For detail on both items, see Bulletin No. 61, May 20, 2011.) There are significant sums to be saved in both areas in the order of $200 million a year - without reducing service to the public. But before TPAC could present its deputation to the Board, it was announced the agreements had been formally approved a few hours before. When TPAC remarked that this was a pretty stupid way to create efficiencies, Councillor Frances Nunziata stated with some bitterness I wish you had told us this previously but of course these proposals for cost savings were made public in January.
Meanwhile, the Board and the city is scrambling with how it might save money. Chief Bill Blair reported on May 20 that the preliminary net police budget for 2012 is $970 million, an increase of about $40 million over this year. Having locked themselves into an expensive four year agreement with staff, it will be interesting to watch what the Board does to reduce expenditures. One can expect city councillors to agree to substantial reductions to programs serving lower income residents in order to ensure the police are well funded.
The consultant KPMG, retained by the city to advise on where cuts might be made, has issued a preliminary report on the police service, but it seems clear they understand little about policing and how money gets spent there. Apparently KPMG has now been retained to take an in depth look at the police service.
Chief Blair reported privately to the Board last week that the cuts Mayor Ford is asking for would result in cutting 750 officers and 400 civilians a 15 per cent cut in police staff. http://www.thestar.com/news/article/1029810--price-of-meeting-police-budget-goal-750-fewer-officers .
Meanwhile Mayor Ford has said hes willing to listen to anyone who comes down to City Hall on July 28. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/story/2011/07/22/toronto-ford-deficit.html
6. Wheres that name badge?
You probably thought (at least since the Board decision in 2006) that the Toronto police had a rule that name badges were mandatory, and that the fact about 100 officers werent wearing them during the G20 was just forgetfulness on their part.
It turns out we are all innocents. One individual, Vikram Mulligan, asked the police complaints office, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director, about missing name badges during the G20. He learned that the policy introduced by Chief Blair was to require badges on multi-purpose patrol jackets, shirts sweater, and soft body armour carriers, but to exempt them on rain gear. Further, they do not have to wear them on older bicycle jackets, since it is difficult to stick them on. None of these problems with the Boards instructions to require name badges on all officers have ever been brought to the attention of the Board, or the public.
Mr. Mulligan raised this matter in a presentation to the Board on July 21. The chair of the police Board reacted furiously to Mr. Mulligans suggestion that the chief should be disciplined for not following orders of the Board in 2006 and said those kinds of statements were not allowed to be made to the Board. The Chief waived off all criticism by saying that no officer had broken any regulation which is why the OIPRD had dismissed the complaint, and that should be the end of the matter. We have rules of service, he said, and they were upheld. (The Chief exhibits significant upset when his actions or opinions are challenged.)
The Board asked for a further report on the procedure for affixing name badges, and for an explanation of exemptions.
7. The Chief reviews police activities at the G20.
Chief Bill Blair prepared his `G 20 Summit After-Action Review, June 2011, presented to the Board at its July 21 meeting. TPAC looked at what the Chief wrote, what he left out, and recommended that the Board take actions so this kind of police response doesnt happen again. Heres the brief:
A. Summarizing the Chiefs Review
One third of Chief Blairs Review deals with the chronology of reports to police during the three day event as well as the week preceding it. These 22 pages set out, minute by minute, various reports that flow into the police -- marches unrelated to the G 20; a man walking down the street with a gun; men dressed in black mixing unknown liquids in bus shelters for unknown purposes; G 20 marches which cause no problems -- and the result of most of these reports is nothing untoward, in spite of the fact that many of them sound suspicious when reported to police. This section also reports on Black Bloc activity at various points in the downtown. The tone of this section, noting the hour and minute of each information bite, is almost hysterical and is not helpful in analyzing how police responded.
The remainder of the report deals with general information lacking the detail that would make it useful. The two pages titled Incident Management System omit names and numbers of officers assigned to units and provide no idea how centers or units related to each other, or what the actual chain of command was. In short it provides no help in determining who was responsible for what.
The three pages on Planning provide such sketchy information that when it shows the radio system devised for the weekend was inoperable because it was overloaded, it is unclear how the problem might be avoided next time. The two pages on Training are so general as to be unhelpful in future planning. Intelligence gets one page, but provides no information on costs, number of officers assigned to intelligence, or how the intelligence work was carried out. Clearly intelligence work failed the police were unable to move against the Black Bloc. The three pages on Security at the Fence do not state why the chief did not tell the Police Services Board about police powers he wanted, although it does note that the chief and police lawyers misunderstood what powers the regulation they asked for actually gave the police. One concludes the chief and his advisors didn't know what they were doing.
Eight pages on Prisoner Management seems to conclude that except for the Eastern Avenue facility being overwhelmed by the large number of individuals arrested with resultant problems processing prisoners, things there went fairly well. The chief says the prisoners were given food and water basically as required, and only five prisoners required hospital treatment. None of the many complaints of those arrested regarding overcrowding portable toilet facilities, cold air temperature, lack of water and food, inability to call lawyers, and lack of identification are referred to in the report. The three pages on Risk Management describe very briefly the number of unrelated reviews of G 20 activities that have begun and notes that discipline was levied against more than 100 officers for removing identification. It is unclear what risks were being managed in these processes. The three pages on Public Information describe police outreach attempts before and during the G 20 and concludes that some information provided by the police was inaccurate and misleading although examples (such as the police wrongly assuring the media that rubber bullets were not being used) are not given.
Then follow three pages of Key Findings, all of which are so general as to not be helpful, and then 10 recommendations. Recommendations are all in the order of lets-do-better-next-time: better training; better preparation; better ways to isolate people in the crowd; better detention centers; better communication; better command structure.
B. Deficiencies in the Review
The review is deficient in a number of ways, some relating to the police and some relating to the public. The deficiencies in regard to the public are as follows:
1) There is no mention of the large number of people arrested and held for 24 hours or more and then released without charge. It is illegal to arrest on a whim, but this happened to hundreds of people. The chief apparently sees no problem with police taking this illegal action.
2) There's no mention of the hundreds of illegal searches conducted by police throughout the city, searches contrary to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. By refusing to mention this as an issue, the chief seems to condone this illegal activity.
3) There is no mention of the way police treated people. Many, many complaints have been made about what officers did to belittle and insult people and to make them believe they had no rights. The chief obviously did not see these actions as a problem important enough to be commented on.
The least one can expect is that the chief apologize for the illegal and/or inappropriate actions by officers under his command and control. One assumes there is no apology because the chief sees nothing wrong, and that's a big problem. One fears these kinds of police actions are being justified and condoned by the police chief, since he is silent in the face of them. Clearly the city cannot afford for that to continue.
Deficiencies in regard to the police:
1. The chief knows the Black Bloc tactics -- individuals dressed in black, faces covered, breaking from the crowd to damage property, then retreating into the crowd and shedding the black clothing to blend in with others -- have been used since the 1980s. Since it is a tactic that has been used for 25 years and should have been expected to be used during the G 20; why were the police so unprepared to respond to it here? Had they not planned for it? Did protecting themselves take precedence over protecting property and the public? Further, if police were expecting the Black Bloc, why did they not inform demonstrators to deal effectively with it? Very few demonstrators wanted their messages to be hijacked by violence, and its quite possible many would have co-operated to minimize it. Maybe this is a sign of how difficult police find it to cooperate with others in matters of public safety and security. Police chose to infiltrate organizing groups and spy on them, rather than negotiate with organizers to manage breakaway groups.
2. Considerable amounts were spent on surveillance cameras, some of which have since been purchased by the police. The Chiefs Review makes no mention of the information gathered by this system. Was it effective? Was there so much information provided that it cannot be analyzed effectively? What does this surveillance material show about police activities? The chiefs silence leads one to conclude these kinds of surveillance systems should not be employed in the future, and that they have little effect in useful policing.
3. Without detail, trying to make change for the future is not viable. The Chiefs report is full of banal generalities, and lacking in details for even examples. It is not an effective review of what happened in the G 20 if one wants to do better next time.
C. Actions to be taken by the Board
We do not want the police to respond to any public protest in the future the way they responded to the G 20. That must be made clear to the chief and to senior managers. To ensure this does not occur again, the board should agree on a set of principles such as the following.
Principles to be adopted
At any future demonstration in Toronto, the Chief and every member of the police service will be required:
1) To respect and uphold laws and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and not arrest or search individuals or to threaten individuals into giving their consent to be searched, without reasonable cause.
2) To respect individuals and not to demean, belittle and/or threaten them with inappropriate and sexist, racist, homophobic, etc. comments and actions.
To ensure accountability of police:
3) Commanding officers will be held responsible and required to account for any lack of identification of officers under their control and for any violence and/or personal injury caused by officers under their control.
4) Officers will be instructed that they may not search and/or arrest individuals without reasonable cause, and commanding officers will be held responsible for wrongful searches and arrests made by officers under their control.
5) Strip searches will not be undertaken unless a frisk search shows the likelihood of an individual concealing something that can be used as a weapon under his/her clothing. Commanding officers will be held responsible for strip searches wrongfully carried out by officers under their control.
6) Any infringement of these principles will be grounds for discipline and/or dismissal.
Several other presentations were made to the Board on the Chiefs report, including one by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, noting that others had a much different perspective than the Chief on the events of the three days. The Board decided not to make any comment until the report of John Mordens G20 Review was available, at which point a special meeting would be called.
8. Subscribe to the Bulletin
To subscribe or unsubscribe to this Bulletin, please send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org with the instructions in the subject line or in the text of the message. Our e-mail list is confidential and will not be made available to others. There is no charge for the Bulletin. Our website is http://www.tpac.ca.
- end -