1. Chief Fantino's contract not renewed
In 2000, the Toronto Police Services Board agreed to hire Julian Fantino as Chief of police, even though he had not formally applied for the position, and although he refused to be interviewed by the Board for the position. He was given a five year contract, expiring in March 2005.
In the Fall, 2003, the Board and the Chief began discussions to extend the contract for a further few years. Negotiations took place but broken down shortly before the municipal election on November 10, at about the same time that the Chief made it clear that he wanted John Tory elected as mayor. The electors chose David Miller as mayor, and after the newly elected council appointed three councilors to the Board, the negotiations never resumed.
During June it was known that Board consideration of the extension was underway, and that a decision was expected - perhaps even required by the contract, the terms of which have never been made public. On June 24 the Board announced that the contract had not been renewed. Citing personnel practice, the Board gave no public reasons for the decision.
Andrew Clark of the Toronto Police Association immediately said the decision required the province to begin an investigation of the Board, as though somehow it had done something wrong. (This was something of a surprise: several years ago the TPA held a vote of its members, which revealed about 90 per cent had no confidence in the Chief.) Former Judge George Ferguson, who has been retained by the Chief to report on how police corruption might be constrained - as reported in Bulletin 9 - said he no longer had confidence in the Board. (If he feels that way, it may be proper for him to resign.)
That the police union would react so virulently to the Board decision, and that a consultant retained by the Chief would made such statements, indicate why it's time for a change in the most senior leadership of the police force.
The Board's job now is to begin a process to recruit a new chief. (The selection of a new deputy chief is thought to be virtually completed.) The advice of the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition on this selection process is set out in Bulletin 10, and includes defining clear objectives for the police service, and criteria that successful candidates for the position should meet.
2. Board Chair announces his resignation
In mid-June Alan Heisey indicated he would be resigning from the Toronto Police Services Board in September. He was appointed by city council to the Board in early 2001 for a three-year term or until his successor was appointed. In November 2003 he became the Chair of the Board and he generally ushered in a period of change, where the Chief and the Board were required to be more responsive to public concerns. Given his success, it seemed unlikely city council would review his appointment, but simply allow his term to continue running.
As reported widely, including in these Bulletins, Mr. Heisey has come under personal attacks for statements allegedly made several years ago about child pornography. A former judge was brought in to investigate the matter, and he concluded "The leak of the confidential police memo [on what Mr. Heisey was alleged to have said] was manifestly calculated to damage Mr. Heisey's reputation and undermine, if not destroy, his ability to continue as chair of the .. Board."
Having survived that attack, Mr. Heisey then came under increasing pressure as two provincial appointees - Hugh Locke (a former judge) and Benson Lau - walked out of a Board meeting in May, thus denying the Board a quorum and halting Board business. The Board is now locked in a split between more progressive voices - Heisey and Councillors Pam McConnell and John Filion - against those who prefer to give the Chief a freer hand - Hugh Locke, Benson Lau and Councillor Case Ootes. The seventh position on the Board continues to be held by Norm Gardner who remains under suspension until his appointment ends later this year. The Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Monte Kwinter, has claimed his hands are tied and that he is not permitted to dismiss Norm Gardiner and make another appointment. Gardiner brought an application to have the suspension overturned and after the matter was argued before it on June 25, the court reserved its decision.
This untenable situation helps to explain Mr. Heisey's decision to step aside, albeit his resignation was couched in personal terms. One question is how the search for a new Chief will proceed as the Chair changes hands - or will Mr. Heisey stay in place to see this issue to finality?
3. Police Complaints Review Begins
In early June Attorney General Michael Bryant appointed the Honourable Patrick J. LeSage, a former judge, to conduct a review of the police complaints system in Ontario . Mr. LeSage will consult with interested parties, review the historical context, and make recommendations to the government, hopefully by the end of 2004. His terms of reference indicate that his advice and recommendations will reflect the following principles:
* the police are ultimately accountable to civilian authority;
* the public complaints system must be and must be seen to be fair, effective and transparent;
* any model of resolving public complaints about police should have the confidence of the public and the respect of the police; and
* the province's responsibility for ensuring police accountability in matters of public safety and public trust must be preserved.
Written submissions may be sent to: The Hon. Patrick J. Lesage, Q.C., Police Complaints Review, The Wicket, 777 Bay Street, P.O. Box 46119 , Toronto , ON , M5G 2P6 . The staff assigned from the Ministry of the Attorney General to work with Mr. LeSage are John Lee (telephone 416-326 2530) and John Twohig.
This is not a public inquiry, so evidence will not be taken under oath. Instead, it is expected that much of the review will be done by meeting with interested parties, and perhaps some public meetings will be arranged called, but decisions on that have not yet been made.
Mr. LeSage has already begun meeting with groups (including with the steering group of the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition where we discussed the recommendations which came out of our public meeting last November - see http//www.tpac.ca ).
The web site for this review is still being constructed, but its address will be http://www.policecomplaintsreview.on.ca
4. Public Meeting: "Recreation or Incarceration?"
TPAC's public meeting at the Scarborough Council Chambers on June 16 was attended by a small but interested group. Speakers included Ed Castro, Co-chair of the Scarborough Civic Action Network and manager of the Scarborough Addiction Services; Likwa Nkala, an anti-violence educator; Stefany Hanson of the Toronto Youth Cabinet; and Simon Holdaway, visiting professor at the Centre of Criminology, University of Toronto. The session was chaired by Anna Willats.
It was stated that recreational activities are important because they engage youth and provide an entry into all sorts of other things, including health, education, employment opportunity and preventative strategies. Trying to go into a community to talk about criminal justice issues is rarely effective; one needs an entry point such as recreation. In Scarborough there are very few entry points because of the paucity of recreation centres, which is why kids hang out in places like subway stations. Thus there is a direct link between good recreation and providing the opportunities to divert kids from activities that could prove very damaging to them.
It was also noted that the police cannot reduce crime, and attempts by them to do so will meet with failure. Similarly, police cannot create safe streets. Talk by the Toronto Police that they are waging a war on crime only sets up expectations which will not be met, and a public that will be disappointed.
In the United Kingdom the National Government requires local committees to encourage programs that will reduce the number of offending youth. These committees are partnerships of senior officials responsible for key services such as health, housing, social services and police. These bodies have responsibility for crime reduction at the local level - not the police, and they are assuming more and more responsibility for allocating expenditures on law and order. The police forces in the UK take their place among a range of services relating to youth.
There was much discussion by those present about the failure of Toronto police to engage youth (including a youth advisory committee that either has not met or has died). Talk about crime reduction must begin with knowledge of what the levels of crime are, and decisions about which crimes one is trying to reduce. In Toronto these issues are not clear.
During the discussion there seemed a general agreement that it might be useful to explore the idea of establishing a crime reduction committee for Toronto or for some neighbourhoods in the city. These committees would require the cooperation and participation of very senior staff and probably financial commitments as well. TPAC will consider this matter further, and take the appropriate action.