TPAC
Toronto Police Accountability Coalition
 

Bulletins

Toronto Police Accountability Bulletin No. 116, September 26, 2019.



September 26 2019

1. New race data policy for Toronto police
2. No change on strip searches
3. Chair leaves board, new member appointed
4. Neighbourhood policing expands



Toronto Police Accountability Bulletin No. 116, September 26, 2019.

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

In this Bulletin:
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1. New race data policy for Toronto police
2. No change on strip searches
3. Chair leaves board, new member appointed
4. Neighbourhood policing expands
5. Subscribe to the Bulletin
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1. New race data policy for Toronto police

The Toronto Police Services Board has approved a new Race-Based Data Collection, Analysis and Public Reporting Policy. This policy came about after the Ontario Human Right Commission report `A Collective Impact, and was created by an inclusive panel of police, community members and experts led by Board member Uppala Chandrasekera.

The Policy is the most comprehensive in Canada for a policing organization, requiring the collection of race-based data, comprehensive contextual analysis by an independent expert, transparent public reporting of the data and findings, and the development of action plans to address problematic trends.

The policy will be phased, beginning with Use of Force incidents in January 2020, then expanding to other interactions with the public, including stops, searches, and arrests. The chief will report further on procedures to implement the policy.

The Board notes: `The Board is very proud of this Policy and what it represents for communities across Toronto. The Policy heralds a critical step forward for the Board, and for the Service. By bringing community voices into the policy development process, we recognize that transparency and accountability are critical in building community trust and engagement between the Toronto Police Service and the communities it serves.

Some community members wanted the data to be linked directly to individual officers so intervention could be made by management in appropriate cases. Ms Chandrasekara said there was not agreement on this point, and the emphasis is on systemic, not individual, behavior, and institutional chnage.

Some also asked that those identified by police be permitted to self identify. The Collective Impact report by the OHRC expressed concerns with inconsistency in how police record peoples race and cultural identity in their interactions with the public and self identification would help rectify that. Ms Chandrasekara said this was a complicated issue and will not be pursued at this time. Creating a consistent method for capturing that information will be important.

2. No change on strip searches

The Office of the Independent Police Review Director might have reported in March that Toronto police strip search those arrested forty times more often than other large police forces in Ontario, but that didnt lead the Police Services Board to make any changes. As well, The Ontario Human Rights Commissions report on racism in policing ( A Collective Impact ) found that Black men make up 4.1% of Torontos population, yet were complainants in a quarter of SIU cases alleging sexual assault by TPS officers. Some claim to have been sexually assaulted.


At its September meeting the Board finally received the chiefs report on the OIPRD report. Toronto police staff complained that the OIPRD data was incorrect  the per centage of those strip searched is not 40 per cent, staff complained, it is more like 35 per cent. (That still 35 times higher than other large forces.) Staff made no comment on the OIPRD recommendation, following the Supreme Court proposal in 2001, that a frisk or wand search should be undertaken first.

Instead, staff talked about the imaging system  a full body scan - set up in 14 division, similar to what is used in airports, and how 95 per cent of those asked agreed to that process rather than a strip search. But the machines are expensive and too large for most stations so the police will continue with current strip search procedures. And the imaging system the staff proposes will lead to more invasive searches, not fewer.

The chief will report in November on the costs involved of these machines.

For the last eight years TPAC has asked the Board to substantially reduce the number of strip searches, asking that before a strip search the police undertake a frisk to determine if a strip search is necessary as recommended by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2001. (See our Bulletin No. 64, dated November 21, 2011.) The Board has consistently rejected our advice. In 2014, a deputy chief said the police were not required to do a frisk before a strip search (see our Bulletin No. 84, June 26, 2014) and the Board again refused to intervene. Our annual requests to reduce strip searches have been consistently rejected by the Board.

A report of the Chief of Police dated January 28, 2014, indicates what the police found when doing searches: mostly things like earrings, lighters, watches, lip balm, belts, etc. (See Bulletin No. 99, October 13, 2016.) These items are almost never hidden in underwear. Most of the items would have easily been found if only a frisk or pat-down search had taken place. Perhaps in some cases drugs might be hidden in underwear, but they could surely have been discovered found in a pat-down search.

The chiefs response to the OIPRD recommendation no. 24, which recommends that a strip search not be undertaken unless a frisk or wand search is first done, was `T.P.S. already concurs with this recommendation in Procedure 01-02 Search of Persons. That Procedure is what has been used for strip searching 40 per cent of those arrested, so the chief is saying the Toronto procedure on strip searches is fine and will not change. Toronto will continue to humiliate and degrade 40 per cent of those it arrests.

TPAC asked the Board to declare a goal of no more than 2 per cent of those arrested (double the rate of other large police forces in Ontario) are strip searched effective November 1, 2019, and that the strip search policy be amended immediately to require a frisk or wand search to be undertaken, and that only if it reveals that a strip search is necessary, and after the approval of a senior commanding officer is given, can a strip search be undertaken.

No member of the Board made any reference to our request or the OIPRD recommendation to require a frisk search first. It is as though Board members are living in a cocoon created by the police service, and are unable to hear what others are saying.
3. Chair leaves board, new member appointed.

Andy Pringle has served on the Toronto Police Services Board since 2011, and as chair since 2015. His term expires at the end of September, and he has not asked to be re-appointed by Council. He was praised by other Board members as a team-builder and as collaborative, working with the goal for police services, `Best in Class.  

With this vacancy on the Board, City Council appointed Jim Hart for a three year term. Mr. Hart spent 31 years working with the City of Toronto, mostly at a senior management level, including General Manager of Parks, Forestry and Recreation. He was appointed to Toronto City Council in 2017 to replace the late Ron Moeser, and in March 26. 2018 was quickly appointed to the Police Services Board to replace Shelley Carroll, without the normal practice of canvassing Council for replacements.

The Board will choose a new chair at its October meeting.

4. Neighbourhood policing expands

The neighbourhood policing program in Toronto is expanding. The pilot project of several dozen officers working as community officers in nine neighbourhoods has been judged a success (a group at Humber College made that assessment) and the program will now involve 130 officers in three dozen neighbourhoods.

Officers are assigned to each neighbourhood for four years with the job of building trust and partnerships. They will be involved in dispute resolution, homelessness, mental health issues and organizing meetings. It seems unlikely that the will be advocates for residents to the rest of the police force: it seems policing will continue to function as it now does in these neighbourhoods, with the neighbourhood officers simply an add on rather than a different approach to policing.

How much this expansion will cost, where the funds will come from, and how the officers are being reassigned is unclear. The announcement of the expansion was made by the chief of police, and was not reported through the Board. It is another example of the Board taking a hands off approach to how the police service does its job, and how the public is served by the police, contrary to the recommendation of the report of Judge John Morden on the G20. He recommended that the Board should have a policy that defines when the chief must consult with it about `critical points in what the service is doing (p. 92 of his report) so the service shares operational information with the board both before and after the operation. See Bulletin No. 69, July 11, 2012.

What is even more mystifying about the chiefs announcement is that the 2019 budget did not include funds for this expansion  it was one of the criticisms TPAC made of that budget. (See Bulletin No. 112, March 5, 2019.) Where did the money come from?? Is the Board really providing reasonable governance of the police service?

5. 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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