TPAC
Toronto Police Accountability Coalition
 

Bulletins

Toronto Police Accountability Bulletin No. 97, June 8, 2016.



June 08 2016

1. Transformational Task Force
2. Body Cameras
3. Implementing the new carding regulation
4. Reviewing police oversight agencies
and also
5. Relying on the tried and untrue explanations



Toronto Police Accountability Bulletin No. 97, June 8, 2016.

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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June is busting out all over with policing issues in Toronto.

We see three big decisions coming before the Toronto Police Services Board (TDSB) when it meets on June 17: the report of the Transformational Task Force; the report on the pilot project with body cameras that has taken place over the last nine months; and the report on how the new provincial regulation controlling carding will be implemented by the Toronto police service. As well, this month the review by Judge Michael Tulloch on the OIPRD, SIU, and OCPC gets underway.

This Bulletin is a primer on what to look for.
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In this Bulletin:
1. Transformational Task Force
2. Body Cameras
3. Implementing the new carding regulation
4. Reviewing police oversight agencies
and also
5. Relying on the tried and untrue explanations
6. Subscribe to the Bulletin
***

1. Transformational Task Force

The Task Force is co-chaired by Andy Pringle and Chief Mark Saunders.  It is made up of 6 members drawn from across the Toronto Police Service and the Toronto Police Association, and 6 community members, including co-chair Andy Pringle, and Jeff Griffiths: Former City of Toronto Auditor General; David Soknacki: Former City Councillor, Chair of the Budget Committee, 2003-2006; Michelle DiEmanuele: President and CEO of Trillium Health Partners, and Former Associate Secretary of Cabinet and Deputy Minister in the Ontario Government; Ken Jeffers: Member of the Toronto Police Services Board; and Sevaun Palvetzian: CEO at CivicAction.

It was appointed by the TPSB to look into the Toronto police service with a focus on modernizing operations and containing costs and is expected to report to the Board this month. The Task Force has met in secret and has not given members of the public a chance to speak up, so it is a bit unclear what it will propose. TPAC sent it a letter in March suggesting four goals:

1. Address the culture of policing so that it changes from one of command and control to one of openness and respect.
2. Address the organization of the police service so that resources are more focused on responding to violence, threats of violence, criminal activities, and public disorder.
3. Address equity practices to ensure all people of Toronto are treated with equal respect and service.
4. Address financial issues. We believe the goal should be to secure savings of 5 per cent in Year One ($50 million), and additional savings in each of the next five years.

We also suggested a public process involving those most negatively affected by police and who have been pushing for change, but that was clearly rejected.

Will the Task Force just focus on money? Will the sums be significant, given that the police budget is now more than $1 billion a year??

2. Body Cameras

The Toronto police service has run a pilot project with body cameras for the last nine months, and are to report in June.

It has been a strange pilot project. No terms of reference were ever made public about how `success would be determined  TPAC filed a Freedom of Information Request to obtain the Terms of Reference, but after staff responded asking what we meant by `Terms of Reference and we tried to provide clarification, there was no further information provided.

There are a host of sticky questions about body cameras. Are they always on, or only on sometimes and when is that? Can members of the public get tapes? What are the controls to prevent tampering? What is the cost of taping, storage and retrieval?

Data from other studies shows there are no easy answers. An RCMP study shows officers are assaulted 15 per cent more often when cameras are on. A RAND study of police in Britain and the United States concluded that if officers can turn the camera on and off police use of force increased more than 70 per cent compared to officers without cameras.

One must tread carefully here, and it would be unwise to rush to implement any police recommendation to use cameras without having some outside independent expert opinion. Whether the police service has engaged any such independent advisors is not known.

3. Implementing the new Carding regulation

Large parts of Ontario Regulation 58/16  formally called `Collection of Identifying information in certain circumstances  prohibition and duties but informally known as the regulation that restrains the practice of carding  come into effect on July 1, 2016.

Section 12 comes into effect on July 1 and among other things requires the Board to develop a policy about the information which is given by the officer to someone who has been stopped.
For several years TPAC has argued that what the officer records and what the individual is given should be the same: the person stopped should get a carbon copy in order to know exactly what the officer recorded about the stop.

The form should require the following information:
Name of officer
Badge number and division
The alleged crime being investigated
Specific reason for the stop
Date, time, location
Confirmation that individual was told there was no need to answer questions
The information recorded about the individual
Duration of stop
Confirmation that individual was given a completed copy of this form

OIPRD contact info
How to access information gathered by police

Section 12 also requires the board to develop policies respecting the retention of and access to information collected before January 1, 2017. We believe the Board could adopt a policy to destroy any information collected before January 1, 2017.

Maybe the Board will take the position that the fact these sections of the regulation come into force on July 1 does not mean it must develop these policies at this time, but that the polices are not needed until the end of the year when the rest of the regulation comes into effect. If that were the case, why would the regulation require that these sections come into effect now?

We believe the Board has an obligation to report on these matters before July 1. We will see what the Board does.

4. Reviewing Police Oversight Agencies

Judge Michael Tulloch has been appointed to review the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (responsible for complaints about the police), the Special Investigation Unit, and the Ontario Civilian Police Commission, reporting by the end of March 2017. He will hold public consultations.

The terms of reference are somewhat limited  enhance transparency and accountability, and ensure the organizations are efficient and effective. Theres also a muddle since Mr. Justice Tulloch reports to the Attorney General, not to the Minister of Community Safety who in fact oversees the legislation.

But he can transcend these limitations. We hope this month hell be reporting on how he sees accomplishing his work, who his chief of staff will be, and when the public might be able to engage with him.

5. Relying on the tried and untrue explanations

It is something we have come to expect: the tried and untrue explanations for unusual activities in the police world.

So when the Toronto police raided three or more dozen shops in Toronto allegedly selling marijuana illegally, the police traipsed out that ubiquitous reason for taking controversial action: organized crime probably was involved. One can be sure this is not an argument which will ever make its way to the courts in connection with any of these charges; it is simply thrown in by police as a standard explanation of why such a heavy hand was used. Just to capture the absurdity of the raids, the Torontoist reported that some of the things the police displayed in their sensational press conference seemed to be purchased from Bulk Barn. See
http://torontoist.com/2016/05/toronto-police-passed-bulk-barn-items-as-pot-edibles-at-press-conference/

Mike McCormick, president of the Toronto Police Association, trotted out yet another reason why we need more police officers: he said the restriction on carding might have resulted in this years spike in murders  even though very little carding activity occurred 2015 and there was no spike in murders that year.

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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