TPAC
Toronto Police Accountability Coalition
 

Bulletins

Toronto Police Accountability Bulletin No. 110, November 8, 2018.



November 08 2018

1. Bargaining for an efficient police force
2. Police reforms in limbo
3. Neighbourhood policing
4. Taser use increases
5. Spotshotter technology



Toronto Police Accountability Bulletin No. 110, November 8, 2018.

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. Bargaining for an efficient police force
2. Police reforms in limbo
3. Neighbourhood policing
4. Taser use increases
5. Spotshotter technology
6. Subscribe to the Bulletin
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1. Bargaining for an efficient police force

The Toronto Police Services Board and the Toronto Police Association are about to begin bargaining for a new collective agreement, since the current agreement expires at the end of the year.

The key issues for the public are ensuring that officers are on duty when they are needed (that means addressing the rule that there must be two officers in every car after dark,) and addressing the current shift schedule.

The rule of two officers in a car after dark was imposes by an arbitration ruling in the 1970s. As a TPAC study shows, two officer cars do not provide a level of safety greater than one officer patrol cars; most calls not do require that two officers be present; other police forces do not have the requirement that all cars must have two officers at specific times, but instead determine that two officer cars are optional.

Unfortunately there appear to be no studies about the extraordinary extra cost incurred by two officer cars, or the waste of human and financial resources they entail.

A second TPAC study shows that the current shift schedule has officers working 28 hours in every 24 hour period; that it requires the same number of officers to be on duty at every hour of every day and night no matter what the demand for service; that the lack of demand for services may lead officers to perform tasks which are not in the public interest; that other police forces have shift schedules which permit a variable number of officers on duty to respond to demand for service.

The current shift schedule does not serve the public interest, involving much higher costs than needed, and wasting police human resources.

It has been reported that the police force intends to hire another 175 officers in the coming year to replace those who are retiring or leaving for other reasons. But if new rules can be set for the shifts, and if the two officers in a car rule can be renegotiated, there is probably no need for new officers  just re-assign existing officers from the middle of the night when they are not needed, until times when they are needed.

TPAC has raised these issues before bargaining in 2010 and 2014, but the Board did not include them in its negotiating package. It is unclear whether the Board intends to bargain on these issues this time around.

2. Police reforms in limbo

When the provincial government of Doug Ford was elected in June, it immediately announced it was putting on hold the changes to policing and police review set out in the Safer Ontario Act. As reported in Bulletin 109, Premier Ford said he had other ideas.

But now, almost six months later, there is no word on what changes will be made. Perhaps the problem is the inexperience of the new Attorney General, Caroline Mulroney; perhaps it is the uncertainty of leadership in the Ministry of Community Safety, with Michael Tibollo tossed out and a new minister, Sylvia Jones, appointed.

Further, it is unclear what will happen with the previous governments attempt to implement the recommendations of the Ombudsmans report from 2016, `A Matter of Life and Death.

This report on how police deal with the people in crisis in Ontario was released by the Ontario Ombudsman in the summer of 2016. Recommendation No. 2 reads: `The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services should develop and implement a regulation on de-escalation, modelled on the Suspect Apprehension Pursuit Regulation, which requires officers to use communications and de-escalation techniques in all situations of conflict before considering force options, wherever tactical and safety considerations permit. This should be done as quickly as possible, and no later than 12 months after the publication of this report.

TPAC met with Minister Marie-France Lalonde in May 2017, and we were told the ministry was undertaking various studies about implementing the report. It is unclear what the status of those studies is and whether the government has any interest in protecting those in crisis as recommended by the Ombudsman

3. Neighbourhood policing

Neighbourhood policing is expanding in Toronto. As reported to the Board in September, the enhanced program will expand to 60 neighbourhoods within the next year. Teams of two officers will be assigned to a neighbourhood for four year with duties of community patrol, problem solving, and intelligence gathering. The expectation is that officers will become well known community fixtures in the places where they work, more visible and with better access, and thus be more trusted and more responsive.

They will have specialized training and flexible shifts. They will wear baseball caps rather than the usual police hat, but otherwise they will be armed. When fully implemented with 108 officers in October 2019, the annual cost will be $16 million.

The program will be independently evaluated by Humber College.

4. Taser use increases

The Toronto Police force is now arming all officers with conducted energy weapons, aka tasers. So far, some 800 officers have been so equipped, and the first data is available on taser use for a three month period from May to August 2018.

A taser has been used some 128 times in this period; in 85 cases it was simply demonstrated, in 7 cases cocked and ready, and in 36 cases fully deployed. Forty percent of the time it was used in respect of someone in crisis.

Over a full year, this would represent about 500 times that a taser was used by 800 officers, and if that kind of use was spread throughout the police force of 4700 officers, it would mean the taser would be used close to 3000 times in a year.

That should be compared to taser usage in 2015, when tasers were only available to 500 officers. Then, it was used a total of 265 times during the whole year, 97 times in full deployment. In 2014, a taser was used 202 times.

It is apparent that taser use has become much more common by Toronto police officers  perhaps ten times more often. Give an officer a weapon, and rather than just sitting there idly, it will be used.

5. Spotshotter technology

The latest technology to be advocated by police is the spotshotter. It is a system which claims to precisely show where a gun has been fired by establishing sensitive microphones which triangulate the sound, and the police serviced is then alerted. It is apparently used in almost 100 American cities.

Canadian Civil Liberties Association has raised concerns about privacy and whether the technology is useful: apparently in USA 30  70 per cent of alerts produced by it led to no results. As well, it is yet another way of targeting low income communities.

Chief Saunders reported to the Board in September that in numerous instances in Toronto gunshots are not reported for at least an hour, and perhaps this technology would help the police learn of these gunshots. (Maybe neighbourhood officers would be an even better way of finding out about gunshots.) The chief said more research would be done and he would report back before purchasing this technology.

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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