TPAC
Toronto Police Accountability Coalition
 

Bulletins

Toronto Police Accountability Bulletin No. 91, June 29, 2015.



June 29 2015

1. Mayor reverses his position on carding
2. The province intervenes in carding
3. Law suit challenges carding
4. Chair of Toronto Police Services Board resigns
5. Clearing up clearance reports
6. Youth pre-trial diversion strategy requested
7. Maybe a new study on strip searches



Toronto Police Accountability Bulletin No. 91, June 29, 2015.

This Bulletin is published by the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition (TPAC), 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:
1. Mayor reverses his position on carding
2. The province intervenes in carding
3. Law suit challenges carding
4. Chair of Toronto Police Services Board resigns
5. Clearing up clearance reports
6. Youth pre-trial diversion strategy requested
7. Maybe a new study on strip searches
8. Subscribe to the Bulletin
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1. Mayor reverses his position on carding

A great deal of pressure opposing the policy change in carding made by Mayor John Tory (see Bulletin No. 90) began to develop after the Police Services Board meeting on April 16. The Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star both ran powerful editorials against the change, and there were many stories in the newspapers, on radio and on television. There was a real sense of outrage at what he had done.

Gordon Cressy, former president of United Way Toronto, member of City Council, chair of the School Board, and past corporate fundraiser for University of Toronto and Ryerson University, jumped into this issue with his wife, Joanne Campbell. They pulled together Concerned Citizens to End Carding, a group of `elders as he called them : three former mayors, former United Way presidents, three university presidents; significant members of the black community; former judges (including the renowned Roy McMurtry); significant business leaders; and the chair of John Torys mayoralty campaign last year. The statement of the group read:

`Stop Carding Now
`A growing group of prominent citizens is speaking out against the police practice of carding. We are committed to a Toronto that is inclusive, diverse, welcoming, and respectful, and carding does not fit that vision.
`Carding has led many in our city to distrust and disrespect our police. Anger, hurt and unrest have replaced any benefits police may derive from this practice.
`We all need to oppose carding vehemently. We resent having to witness its debilitating impact on our neighbours. It sends a message of hopelessness to young people with black or brown skin. We cannot and will not accept this for any group or community in our city. We do not need a new generation of Torontonians growing up to believe our police are their adversaries.
`We are offended by the notion of casually and routinely stopping citizens, outside of police investigations of actual criminal acts that have occurred, to question and record, and then store personal data in police files. We are deeply distressed that Toronto residents of colour are subjected to this invasion of their privacy when the overwhelming majority of white-skinned citizens are not.
`We believe that carding violates the human rights of citizens. It goes against the principles of our Charter Rights. It paints a disturbing picture and repeats a narrative that is reminiscent of ugly practices that were historically endured by racialized residents, particularly those of African Canadian backgrounds.
`We cannot allow an environment of anger and distrust of our police to exist and fester in our city, particularly among the African Canadian and other racial minority communities. We cannot sit back and allow this to undermine everything we teach our children about Canada being a fair and equal society.
`We urge Mayor John Tory, Alok Mukherjee, Chair of the Police Services Board and Mark Saunders, Chief of Police to immediately cease the practice of carding. And we call on all citizens of this city to step forward and make known their distaste of this fear-mongering practice.
`Our call is not intended to interfere with the common police practice of conducting criminal investigations in order to apprehend criminals in the interest of public safety. Rather, it seeks to correct an injustice that harms police/community relations, and damages the reputation of our police service and the city it serves.
`If this demeaning practice of selected carding is not terminated quickly, it will irreversibly divide and separate our various communities and cultures. We must be a city where every citizen is treated equally and justly.
`Stop Carding Now.
On June 3, the day of the groups press conference, the statement had some 60 signators. Within a week the number exceeded 6000. Almost immediately the mayor said he would bring forward a motion at the June 18 Board meeting to end carding. But the proposed motion he released on June 17 was unclear about what he was doing. It asked the Board to support a permanent cancellation of `carding as defined herein; and also that the Chiefs decision to continue the suspension of `carding be extended indefinitely. His full proposal can be found at http://www.tpsb.ca/20150617-new_policy_on_police-community_engagements.pdf .

It seemed clear that the mayor thought some kinds of carding must be stopped, but that some kinds of carding were fine (and they should simply be `suspended.) The distinction was never clarified.

After more than a dozen deputations to the Board on June18 and much discussion by the Board, the mayor put his motion aside. The Board again adopted the April 2014 positon that police would require a public safety reason to stop someone not suspected of being involved in a crime, would be required to tell them they could walk away without answering questions, and would be required to provide a receipt. As in April 2014, the chief was asked to operationalize this policy.

When Chief Saunders was asked about the impact of again adopting the April 2014 policy and his role in operationalizing it, he indicated he had not really had a chance to read and consider that policy. It was a bit unsettling to hear this from the chief, given we were talking about the most publicly debated police issue in a decade.

We now await the chiefs report implementing this same policy that Chief Bill Blair refused to implement.

2. The Province intervenes in carding

On June 17, 2015, Yasir Naqvi, Ontarios Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, intervened, saying the provincial government would implement regulatory changes on carding. It seems carding is done by most large police forces in the province under different names - police-community engagements, street checks, and so forth. Changes will be made in the Fall, after a process of consultation which has not yet been defined.

3. Law suit challenges carding

George (`Knia) Singh, a young Toronto man who has been carded numerous times, has filed an application for judicial review of carding with the Superior Court of Ontario. It asks for a declaration, among other things, that carding breaches the Charter of Rights and Freedoms both in stopping him and storing information gathered by police.

This should be a straight-forward test of the legality of carding. The lawyer for Singh is Vilko Zbogar.

4. Chair of Toronto Police Services Board resigns.

Alok Mukherjee, chair of the Toronto Police Services Board for the past ten years, announced at the start of the June 18 Board meeting that he was resigning on August 1. He generally said he had been there long enough, but no specific reasons were given why he would not fill out his term which ends next Spring. The wild rollercoaster of events at the Board caused by Mayor Torys presence may have been a factor in his exit, but he never made reference to that.

It immediately became clear that the person ready to take over as chair was Andrew Pringle, a good friend of Mayor Tory and one of his chief fundraisers in the last municipal election. Pringles term expired last November or until his successor was appointed, and City Councils Appointments Committee, firmly controlled by Tory allies, pushed this matter to the bottom of the agenda, and did not name a successor to Pringle until after Mukherjee said he was stepping aside. The Committee then said it was recommending that Pringle continue on the Board, and that recommendation is to go before City Council on July 7.

TPAC has asked Council to refer the matter back to the Committee and not appoint Pringle. Our letter to councillors notes that Pringle has skills as a member of many different boards, and he has expertise in financial investment. Out letter states: The skills needed on the Toronto Police Services Board at this time relate to the cultural competencies of diverse ethno-racial groupings, particularly people of colour, since they face disproportionate and targeted policing in Toronto. The key issue facing the Toronto police service in the next year is how it can change in order to deliver fair and good service to people of colour. The Board needs someone who can speak for those communities, and perhaps someone who has experienced carding first hand. Thats the kind of person Council should be appointing to the Board.

Mukherjee is one of the three Board members appointed by the provincial government, so it will be interesting to see who the province turns to to fill this vacancy.

5. Clearing up clearance reports

Community Safety and Correctional Services minister Yasir Naqvi has introduced Bill 113, The Police Record Checks Reform Act, to set rules about what police might disclose from their records.

The Act authorizes police forces to conduct three types of police record checks: criminal record checks, criminal record and judicial matters checks, and vulnerable sector checks. A Schedule to the Act indicates that non-conviction information about an individual cannot be disclosed in response to a criminal record check or in response to a criminal record and judicial matters check. Non-conviction information is authorized for disclosure only in a vulnerable sector check and only if it meets the test for exceptional disclosure set out in section 10 of the Bill.
See http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/bills/bills_detail.do?BillID=3416&locale=en .

The Bill generally puts in place rules which organizations such as TPAC have been asking for, rules which many police forces in the province (but not the Toronto Police service) have been asking for.

6. Youth pre-trial diversion strategy requested

At the request of Alok Mukherjee as he signalled his resignation, the Toronto Police Services Board has asked Chief Saunders to report in October on a youth pre-charge diversion program. Such programs have been authorized by the Youth Criminal Justice Act since 2003, but the Act requires a strategy to be adopted by the local police force before diversion programs can be implemented.

TPAC asked for such a plan in December 2013 when the Board was considering its 2014  2016 business plan, but the request fell on deaf ears until this report, which notes that Young Canadians are imprisoned at a higher rate than young people in any other western country; moreover, youths are incarcerated at a higher rate than adults charged with the same offences.

The Board has asked the chief to consult with agencies which work with young people
The report should be before the Board this October.

7. Maybe a new study on strip searches

A second item Chair Mukherjee dropped on the Board on June 18 was a request for the City Auditor to look at how the police service conducts strip searches: are they reasonable; do the items found validate the need for a strip search; and do the searches meet the tests of the Golden decision of the Supreme Court of Canada. The Board agreed with TPACs request to look at whether the items found on those searched  keys, necklaces, lip balm, etc - could be found with a just level 2 search (a frisk) rather than a level 3 (strip search); to review whether a strong case should be required for a strip search if the criminal charge did not involve drugs other than cannabis or weapons; and how strip searches affect transgendered individuals.

The study would give an independent window into something that has been quite contentious, but it remains to be seen whether the City Auditor can fit this into her 2016 schedule.

8. 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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