TPAC
Toronto Police Accountability Coalition
 

Bulletins

Toronto Police Accountability Bulletin No. 103, May 8, 2017.



May 08 2017

1. Disappointing report on police oversight
2. Desmond Cole cuts the issue, again
3. The illusive changes to the Police Services Act



Toronto Police Accountability Bulletin No. 103, May 8, 2017.

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 Bulletin
1. Disappointing report on police oversight
2. Desmond Cole cuts the issue, again
3. The illusive changes to the Police Services Act
4. Subscribe to the Bulletin
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1. Disappointing report on police oversight

There have been many favourable comments on the report on Mr. Justice Michael Tulloch regarding police oversight. Most of the comments relate to the recommendations requiring more reports of the Special Investigations Unit to be made public, more police officers be named, and that the oversight bodies should collect demographic data.

In all, the report makes 129 recommendations and many  such as those listed below - are very useful. In essence the report generally takes things as they are and recommends improvements. Perhaps that is the best that Mr. Tulloch thought was politically acceptable. It means that oversight bodies remain in a position of looking for wrong-doing but with some stronger powers.

What he decided not to tackle is how police oversight might lead to a fundamental change in how policing happens so that the problems people complain of when they think of police will occur much less frequently.

For instance, local police are overseen by a local Police Service Board. You would think it should be the first body which deals with complaints against its employees  just as the Sanitation department deals with complaints about sanitation workers. But Boards play no role in resolving complaints against police, hearing how their officers behave, or so forth, so they never become responsible for how their officers do their work or, more particularly, how badly officers are managed by senior officers. Complaints are considered very rare and unusual as though they are not part of the day to day life of what officers do.

By continuing to pass complaints off to other oversight bodies, one is simply re-enforcing current police culture of distaining local democratic control. This is a significant issue that the report does not tackle. It does recommend that selection criteria for Board members be established (12.1) and that they be requiring to undergoing training (12.2)  both changes for the good  but boards will not be responsible for the inappropriate actions of the officers they govern.

Refusing to make the local board responsible for complaints about what its officers are doing is not a good way to ensure that complaints lead to appropriate change.

Second, the Special Investigations Unit has a very limited role: it only looks at whether the officer committed a crime. Obviously, the officers are going about their work and it will be a very rare occasion when they do their work with a `guilty mind which will indicate their actions might be considered criminal. And when the SIU concludes that no criminal activity has taken place, police often say their actions were justified.

But in many cases the actions taken by police, while not criminal in nature, were not reasonable in the circumstances. Instead of calling the police actions unreasonable, the SIU decision actually legitimizes inappropriate actions - certainly a perverse result.

The appropriate change would be to expand the SIU mandate to include a review of whether police acted reasonably in the circumstances. Unfortunately, Mr. Tulloch did not take up this suggestion. The result will clearly be continued unhappiness on the part of complainants who learn there was no criminal activity and yet silence on the question of the reasonableness of police actions.

Third, police culture disdains civilian oversight. In the past police have taken various actions to interfere with oversight - disregarding the rules, playing legal tricks, causing delay. Obviously, these tactics interfere with investigations. There is no reason to believe that these kinds of interferences will stop even if all the recommendations of the Tulloch report are adopted. The fact police laugh at oversight  and that they get full pay while they are suspended for doing something wrong  does not help.

Police culture is addressed only tangentially in this report. It is referred to in Chapter 12 (see paragraph 27) but says the main characteristics are that it is White, male and hyper-masculine, never mentioning the disdain for civilian oversight, the fact that officers only trust other officers, and that officers will do anything necessary to stand up for fellow officers including lying under oath. The report recommends more and better training, including a College of Policing.

In our opinion these are considerable shortfalls in the report. The fact they have not been dealt with means the opportunity to learn from the questionable actions of the police is minimized.

Nevertheless the changes proposed are worth noting, and they are as follows:
The main changes to the SIU:
a) At least half the investigators should not have a police background (4.15)
b) Police must notify SIU of any relevant incidents (5.7) that occur.
c) Officers and other policing officials must co-operate with the SIU (5.8, 5.11)
d) SIU `should (not `must) release name of any officer charged (6.1)
e) SIU reports where no charges are laid `should be released publicly.
(6.7)
f) At a coroners inquest, government should provide funding for a lawyer for family of anyone killed by police (6.17)

The main changes to the OIPRD
a) A better name (7.1)
b) Within five years, OIPRD should do all investigations of complaints (now the OIPRD turns them over to the police department to investigate) (7.20)
c) No more than 25 per cent of OIPRD investigators can have a police background (4.16)
d) OIPRD can lay disciplinary charges against an officer (7.25)
e) Police have a duty to co-operate with OIPRD (7.29)
f) Prosecution of OIPRD complaints is by AGs office (not by police) (8.1)
g) Hearings should be by the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (8.3) This gives the OCPC something to do, since the report strips it of many of its powers which were rarely used.

Other
a) The Ombudsman should be able to review the activities of the SIU, OIPRD and OCPC. (4.20)
b) Oversight bodies should partner with First Nation police (10.2)
c) Oversight bodies should collect demographic data (11.1)
d) Establish selection criteria for police board appointees and train them (12.1 and 12.2)
e) A College of Policing should be considered(12.3)
f) Police training should be reviewed (12.4)

We await a full government response and the legislative changes proposed. That wait might be some time, given what has (not yet) happened on Police Service Act changes.

2. Desmond Cole cuts the issue, again

When things were getting tense but uncertain around what the Toronto Police Services Board would do about carding in April 2015, Desmond Cole made a searing deputation about being stopped some 50 times by police. He also wrote about it for Toronto Life. (See Bulletin No. 90, May 2015). His intervention was critical to focusing on the issue and helping to mobilize a much larger public to the issue, leading to the provincial regulation which limits, although it does not end, carding. (The regulation came into effect at the beginning of the year, and we still await reporting on the numbers of stops made by police in Toronto and in Ontario for the first quarter of 2017.)

Desmond has done it again. At the Toronto Police Services Board meeting in April, he deputed on the issue of the Toronto police refusing to destroy the carding data collected before the regulation came into force. He said he had promised Black youth that he would stand up for them on this issue, and arguing that the Board should destroy this data since it had been generally shown to be inappropriate by the new regulation, he told the Board he would not leave until the Board had decided to destroy it.

The Board refused to respond to Coles request, and when he refused to leave the table, it called a ten minute adjournment. When the Board returned Cole remained at his place and the Board adjourned. A clip of Coles powerful remarks and the Boards limp reaction can be found at
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_kC53x-kSg&feature=youtu.be&t=1h32m17s

What is unclear is why a Board member did not indicate a willingness to advance a motion to ensure this data was not available to police except in the case of a law suit brought by the individual affected. Instead, what Cole and the public saw was the unwillingness of the Board to set progressive policy, its usual default position.

The next question: what will happen when the Board next meets on May 18?

3. The illusive changes to the Police Services Act

It was in August 2015 that the then Minister of Community Safety, Yasir Naqvi, announced his ministry would begin a process to change the Police Services Act. That was followed by a formal announcement the next month, and subsequently more announcements and the commencement of consultations which concluded more than a year ago.

TPAC submitted a brief in November 2015, recommending a number of changes including provisions in the Act which:

*requires police to co-operate with social agencies, private security, and communities (Sec. 1)
*asks police training to be on the campus of an existing community college or university (Sec 3)
*redefines core police services away from simple crime fighting to reflect actual work done (Sec 4)
* expands police service boards in larger cities to 12 or more members (sec 27)
* requires police service boards to set operational policy, to be more transparent; outlines their many duties; makes the chief subservient to the board (Sec 31)
*expands duties of officers to protect and respect human rights and rule of law (Sec 42)
* hires officers by job description rather than as recruits at the bottom (Sec 43)
* restricts paid duty work to no more than 20 per cent of regular hours (Sec 49)
*makes special constables subject to OIPRD and SIU (Sec 49)
* dissolves OIPRD (Sec 56 98) and expands SIU to report on reasonableness of police actions as well as possible crimes (Sec 113)
* requires hearing officer in misconduct cases to not be a police officer (Sec 82)
* permits chief to suspend an officer without pay (Sec 89). 

In the consultations in Spring 2016 it was clear the changes being considered were considerably more limited than TPAC hoped for.

Then the initiative seemed to fall apart. Naqvi was appointed Attorney General and a new Minister of Community Safety entered the scene, David Orazietti. He resigned before Christmas 2016 for personal reasons; the ministers position was vacant for a few months; then the current minister, Marie-France Lalonde, was appointed earlier this year. Legislation has been promised this Spring, but the year is certainly entering a period many call Summer.

The legislation is overdue.

4. Subscribe to the Bulletin

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