TPAC
Toronto Police Accountability Coalition
 

Bulletins

Toronto Police Accountability Bulletin No.70, August 11, 2012



August 10 2012

1. The Police Board reacts to Mordens G20 Review
2. Letter to sign responding to G20 reports
3. Carding, the next step
4. Once more with feeling: more police are the answer
5. Clearance letter policy review



Toronto Police Accountability Bulletin No. 70, August 10, 2012.

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. The Police Board reacts to Mordens G20 Review
2. Letter to sign responding to G20 reports
3. Carding, the next step
4. Once more with feeling: more police are the answer
5. Clearance letter policy review
6. Subscribe to the Bulletin
***
1. The Police Board reacts to Mordens G20 Review

One of the first pieces of business at the July 19 Toronto Police Services Board meeting was the three dozen recommendations of the G20 Review by former judge John Morden. The weight of Mordens Review was criticism of the Boards refusal to address operational policy matters in general, and in particular police operations during the G20 meetings in June 2010.

Board members had clearly worked out their approach in private meetings. A fifteen page memorandum was presented showing how the Board would deal with each recommendation. Some would be dealt with by the Board, some by the Board and the chief together, some by the Board working with provincial officials. Chair Alok Mukherjee apologized to who suffered during the G20 but made no specific reference to the strong criticism which Morden had directed at him for trying to prevent Board members Adam Vaughan and Lisa Cohen from asking questions about what the chief was planning to do.

Councillor Pam McConnell, a Board member during the G20 spoke, arguing that the G20 was a challenge for everyone and the problem was that the police and the Board did not have enough time to plan well. We did as well as we could, she said. TPAC asked that the chair resign or be dismissed, given Mordens report; that the Board members commit themselves in the future to dealing with operational policy; and that groups like the Canadian Civil Liberties Association be included in a consideration of Mordens recommendations. There was only one other speaker, Vikram Mulligan, who said that Toronto had been a police state for that weekend with massive violations of civil rights including arrest and searches, and that the chief should be dismissed.

That was the extent of public reaction to the Morden G20 Review at the Board: one would have expected more, but of course the Board had done nothing to alert the public to the fact this matter was being discussed.

And in any case it seemed the Board had little interest in what others had to say. The Board proceeded as though it had heard nothing, and went about its business of adopting the recommendations it had worked out in advance. It made one change: rather that agreeing with Morden that it needed its own legal advisor instead of continuing to rely on a city lawyer (a lawyer who, it is said, has consistently told the Board not to deal with operational policy), it agreed to study the cost of this change. Councillor Frances Nunziata said she took the Morden recommendations seriously, but she was the only Board member to say anything: in a wink the recommendations were adopted and the Board moved onto the next piece of business.

The impetus of the Morden Review did not go unnoticed by others in a position of power. The Ontario Association of Police Services Board (OASPB) wrote that we do not view [the Morden proposals that Boards deal with operational matters] as the only interpretation of the Police Services Act nor do we feel the reports recommendations are necessarily binding on police service boards. Roger Anderson, chair of the Durham Regional Police Services Board was more explicit, stating we do not share [Mordens] view that it is appropriate for Boards to review operational plans and make suggestions and recommendations. His letter closed with a reference to the OAPSB training material which states The Board determines what is to be accomplished, and the chief determines how the what is to be accomplished. In short, Anderson proposes to continue the hands-off approach of which Morden was so critical. One suspects considerable debate will ensue on this issue in the next six months.
2. Letter to sign regarding G20 Review
The last Bulletin contained the letter flowing from the G20 Review for which we are seeking signatures. The letter called for overhauling the Board, restructuring police training to diminish the presence of harmful police culture, restructuring police management. A number of people have already added their name to the letter. In the last Bulletin we had stated the closing date for names was towards the end of July, but we have agreed that since nothing will be happening with the letter during the (slow summer days of) August, the letter is open for signatures until Labour Day. Please go to http://tpac.ca and click on Bulletins to review the letter and follow instructions to add your name.
3. Carding, the next step

In April 2012 the Toronto Police Services Board asked Chief Bill Blair to provide a copy of carding information to everyone who was stopped and questioned, mostly racialized youth. Chief Blair asked for three months to report on the matter, but when the three months rolled around at the July 19 meeting, Blair asked for another four months.

TPAC told the Board that the chief should have as long as he wanted to report, but that the matter of carding needed to be addressed immediately. TPAC asked that everyone stopped should be given a written receipt which included the officers name and number, the reason for the stop, and various other data. Reference was made to receipts given out by police forces in the UK, notably London and Manchester, and the fact these are written out, not requiring any technological fix as may be required with supplying a copy of the information the police will file in their vast information bank on (mostly racialized) youth in Toronto.

Board members seemed interested in this simple approach which would introduce exceptional accountability to carding. The Board asked the chief to report to the next meeting, on August 15, on implementing receipts. It is understood that this report might be a `walk-on, that is, it would not be available until the meeting starts.

This seems to be an issue the Board is interested in moving forward on even if the chief seems reluctant.

4. Once more with feeling: more police are the answer

The idea that more police officers will solve some of the citys most recalcitrant social problems never seems to go away. After the latest round of shootings in the city, there was considerable talk of the report by Roy McMurtry and Alvin Curling `The Roots of Youth Violence, and how the city and the province needed to support youth by providing a rich array of social, recreational and education opportunities. In recent years, these programs have been cut  they need to be restored and enhanced. Even Chief Bill Blair, when meeting with the editorial board of the Globe and Mail referred to the wisdom of this appraoch.

But then the leaders did the same dumb thing they do so often: they said that more police were the answer and thats where the money would be spent. Premier Dalton McGuinty agreed to continue funding TAVIS, the police program which probably more than any other interaction, alienates racialized youth since the places they live are targeted by TAVIS random patrols with stops and searches. Then Mayor Rob Ford agreed the police need to hire more officers  even though he had argued at budget time that the police should cut back.

Every cent spent on more police is money not spent on supporting youth. Why cant our leaders see that? Where is the Police Services Board in this debate? Why cant these decisions about increasing spending be made in forums where the public can react and bring some reason into decision-making?

5. Clearance letter policy review

One of the most contentious of police policies is the decision to refuse to quickly issue a clearance letter to those wanting to work in the vulnerable sector. Quite often , if the police think that person might have done anything of interest in the last decade even if not charged with, or convicted of, a criminal offense, a clearance letter is withheld.

The matter of the clearance letter policy came before the Board on July 19 by way of an appeal by an individual who had been questioned by the police in 2000 regarding a sexual matter. No charges had been laid. He applied for a clearance letter required by his prospective employer in 2010 and was refused. His appeal to the chief was refused, hence his appeal to the Board.

The Board was told of several other instances where clearance letters were refused even though charges had never been laid, or had been laid in error and never proceeded with. The Board seemed interested in reviewing the policy and maybe agreeing that only a criminal conviction should be the basis of the police refusing to provide a clearance letter.

The Board appointed a sub-committee of three members to review the matter: Marie Moliner, Andrew Pringle, and Councillor Lee. It is unclear when the sub committee will report, but it is encouraging it has taken up the issue.

6. Subscribe to the Bulletin

To subscribe or unsubscribe to this Bulletin, please send a note to info@tpac.ca 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 -