TPAC
Toronto Police Accountability Coalition
 

Bulletins

Toronto Police Accountability Bulletin No. 76, June 27, 2013.



June 27 2013

1. Carding update
2. Police chases
3. Paying police well
4. Neighbourhood officers in Toronto
5. Another man with mental illness killed



Toronto Police Accountability Bulletin No. 76, June 27, 2013.

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
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In this issue:
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1. Carding update
2. Police chases
3. Paying police well
4. Neighbourhood officers in Toronto
5. Another man with mental illness killed
6. Subscribe to the Bulletin
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1. Carding update

The carding issue was again before the Board on June 20, as the subcommittee recommended that a new system of carding be put in place on July 1. The Board began with a presentation by deputy chief Peter Sloly and two officers about when officers would give those they talked with a Form 307, a simple receipt that has been strongly criticized (when it was labelled Form 306) at previous Board meetings (See Bulletin No. 75.) A receipt will be offered after an officer has asked someone questions (this was called an `community inquiry, or after a person is detained or arrested, but not after a simple meet and greet, such as in a Tim Hortons coffee shop. Sloly said a great deal of training has already occurred to ensure that officers understand this new procedure.

Not once in the 20 minute presentation was there any mention of `street checks or `carding, which led to the question, Does this means the police will stop carding people?

The police officers looked dumb-founded, and the Board was assured that carding would continue, but with a new Form 306 that was much like Form 208. What questions are required by the new 306 is unknown  the police refused to show the new 306, claiming it was at the printers. So the presentation was entirely beside the point: the issue that was raised 15 months ago was about providing a carbon copy receipt for carding and that wont be happening right now. Police agreed this was only an interim step, so something else might happen in the next six months.

One fallout of the new system of carding is that the Citys Auditor General, who had been asked to study the data about who has been carded in past years in order to make recommendations about future police practice, has decided his work makes no sense if police are changing the way things are done, so he has ceased his work. It was the benefit of the Auditor Generals study that the Board had first used in 2012 as its way of saying it was addressing the issues.

Several interesting presentations were made to the Board on the issue. Howard Morton of the Law Union again argued that carding breached the Charter of Rights and that officers should be required to tell youth that they are not required to answer any questions. Barbara Hall, chair of the Ontario Human Rights Commission said she was troubled about the impacts of carding on youth and the community, and recommended that carding be stopped until it was assessed against the Human Rights Code and the Charter of Rights. Roger Love of the African Canadian Legal Clinic asked that the Auditor Generals report be prepared, and that carding cease. TPAC asked when the sub-committee was going to address the bigger questions in its Terms of Reference about the reason for carding and the value of it.

The Board discussed the matter for more than an hour, and although it was a scrappy discussion that confirmed the new system starting on July 1, there was much evidence that the Board is unhappy with how things are unfolding, and that Board members are looking for how, in the next six months, the police service can be changed so that at a minimum carbon copies of the new Form 306 can be issued, and perhaps even more.

It also seemed that Chief Blair is withdrawing from involvement in the issue and leaving it in the hands of Deputy Chief Sloly who appears not to be making the headway with the Board  or the community  that he had hoped.

2. Police chases

Several police pursuits have recently been in the news, some in Toronto, and some where several police jurisdictions are involved. Police pursuits are dangerous to police and to the public, and we believe the provincial government should act to reduce the number of police pursuits (chases) in Toronto and in Ontario.

We requested that the Toronto Police Service limit chases, but were told by the Chair that the Regulation sets the limitation and that the Board cannot restrict chases further. Accordingly, a change of the Regulation is required by the provincial government.

Here is what we have written to Madeleine Meilleur, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services:

Police chases in Ontario are regulated by Ontario Regulation 266/10 (under the Police Services Act) which requires authorization for chases by a manager. The regulation also sets out when an officer may embark on a pursuit. Section 2(1) of the Regulation states:

A police officer may pursue, or continue to pursue, a fleeing motor vehicle that fails to stop,
(a) if the police officer has reason to believe that a criminal offence has been committed or is about to be committed; or
(b) for the purposes of motor vehicle identification or the identification of an individual in the vehicle.
Subsection 3 states:

A police officer shall, before initiating a suspect apprehension pursuit, determine whether in order to protect public safety the immediate need to apprehend an individual in the fleeing motor vehicle or the need to identify the fleeing motor vehicle or an individual in the fleeing motor vehicle outweighs the risk to public safety that may result from the pursuit.

In our opinion the issue is not trying to manage pursuits more carefully, but instead restricting the number that occur: that will reduce the risk to police officers and members of the public. The data shows most chases in Toronto, and probably in the rest of Ontario, are commenced for possible violations of the Highway Traffic Act. Those risks should not be undertaken. Chases should not be commenced for such minor matters.

Here is the data for Toronto. In 2011 there were 142 chases in Toronto. More than half were initiated because of possible Highway Traffic Act offences; 42 per cent because of alleged dangerous driving or other Criminal Code offence, or stolen vehicle. In 2011, ten per cent of these chases resulted in collisions, and about 6 per cent resulted in personal injury or fatality, half of whom were police officers. The rate of collisions and injuries were higher in 2010 and 2009.

We believe the data in Toronto is not unique but is repeated throughout the province. A report for the Ministry of the Solicitor General in 1999 found that between 1991 and 1997 there were 10,421 chases in Ontario, in which 33 people were killed and 2451 injured  which meant that about a quarter of all chases resulted in injury or death.

Experience shows the risks involved in chases are simply too high, particularly when in half the cases the offence is simply under the Highway Traffic Act. The initiation of a chase should be more than just vehicle or individual identification. In fact, we believe that in most cases where a Criminal Code offence is suspected, or where the vehicle is thought stolen, the outcomes of a chase are not significant enough to commence a chase. No great harm will ensue by the officer not apprehending the person at that moment  apprehension can occur at a later time, given that the vehicle can be identified.

The only time when a chase should be undertaken is where it is reasonable to assume that if the person escapes that person will cause death or serious bodily harm to another person. That is the only case where the risk of a collision or personal injury or death should be undertaken.

We request the Minister to begin a process to amend the Regulation so that it reads:
A police officer may pursue, or continue to pursue, a fleeing motor vehicle that fails to stop if the officer reasonably believes that if the person escapes that person will cause death or serious bodily harm to another person. 

TPAC has asked the Toronto Police Services Board to endorse the request.

3. Paying police well

No one can now claim that policing in Ontario is an underpaid job, indeed many would conclude police officers are handsomely rewarded for the work they do.

In 2011, the provincial government negotiated a new agreement with the Ontario Provincial Police Association, providing a 0 per cent salary increase in 2012, 0 per cent in 2013, then 8.5 per cent in 2014. This means as of January 1, 2014, the salary of an OPP constable will rise from $87,240 to $94,702; that of a sergeant from $98,093 to $106,483. This makes the OPP the best paid police force ion Ontario, and creates a benchmark that all police associations in the province will hope to reach for their members. It creates a serious financial issue for municipalities required to pay the costs of policing, whether for a local force or when contracted with the OPP.

There are also new figures for the number of Toronto officers earning over $100,000 in 2012. Once duty pay is included, the number of officers and civilians jumps from 3181 to 3890, which is almost double what it was two years ago, in 2010. The total number of officers on the force is about 5850; with a further 1950 civilians for a total staff complement of about 7800.

4. Neighbourhood officers in Toronto

Toronto Police have apparently begun a new service using what they call `neighbourhood resource officers who are assigned for a two year period to small neighbourhoods, apparently to improve community and youth relations. It is unclear whether these officers have been appointed in all divisions. (TPAC learned about the program through a local contact which has not yet provided further information.) Is this a pilot project? Are there terms of reference for neighbourhood resource officers? Criteria for measuring success? Established goals?

A slight reference to the officers can be found on the Toronto Police service web,
http://www.torontopolice.on.ca/community/ . A return to serious community policing, where officers are assigned to a community on a long term basis to know and be known by community members including by youth, seems like a much better approach than the TAVIS method of flooding a community for a night with officers who dont even know the names of the streets on which they are walking.

Whether that is where the Toronto police are heading is unclear. Well report further as we learn more.

5. Another man with mental illness killed

On June 8, Toronto police shot and killed a man who had a knife and seemed to be experiencing mental distress, on Adanac Drive in Scarborough. Neighbours said the man had exhibited signs of mental distress for some months. This is the second mentally ill person killed by Toronto police in six weeks.

A year ago  May 2012, to be more exact  the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services announced it was undertaking an internal review of the manner in which police officers in Ontario deal with the mentally ill. TPAC wrote the Minister congratulating her on the study, and received a reply which indicated the breadth and depth of the study.

But here we are, more than a year later, people with mental health problems seem to be just at risk from police shootings as in the past, and where is the report? We asked the Minister for an update two weeks ago, but have yet to receive a response.

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.
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      Bulletin No. 76 June 27.doc  (PDF File)

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