TPAC
Toronto Police Accountability Coalition
 

Bulletins

Toronto Police Accountability Bulletin No. 32, Dec. 20, 2006.



December 20 2006

1. Bill 103, a new police complaints commission
2. A new police program: 25 and out
3. Corruption charges within the Toronto Police Force
4. 2007 police budget
5. Policing the RCMP



Toronto Police Accountability Bulletin No. 32, December 20, 2006

This bulletin is published monthly by the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition, 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 issue:
1. Bill 103, a new police complaints commission
2. A new police program: 25 and out
3. Corruption charges within the Toronto Police Force
4. 2007 police budget
5. The RCMP muddle
6. Subscribe to the Bulletin
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1. Bill 103, a new police complaints commission

Bill 103, which implements the LeSage Report establishing a new process for complaints against the police, was given Second Reading by the Ontario Legislature in late October and referred to the Standing Committee on Justice Policy.

But the Committee has yet to establish when (or if) public hearings will be held on the Bill. Legislative rules state that a standing committee cannot have public hearings without the consent of the Legislature. That consent may be given before the Legislature adjourns Thursday December 21, but if it is not, then public hearings could not be authorized before the Legislature resumes sitting in mid-March 2007.

Government sources have made it clear that they do not want the spring session interrupted with contentious matters and thats what Bill 103 could be: those familiar with policing matters believe the Bill is not strong enough, and police advocates are generally not supportive of a strong and effective complaints mechanism. So if there is no agreement by Thursday to hold hearings, chances are the Bill will never be enacted. While the Bill may not make a perfect complaints system, it would be much better than the complaints system now in place.

Will permission be given for public hearings before adjournment on Thursday? Only the leaders of the three political parties know for sure. It seems like a most unsatisfactory way to deal with public business.

The Chair of the Justice Policy Committee is Lorenzo Berardinetti, (Liberal, Scarborough); the leading Liberal on the Committee is David Zimmer (Willowdale). Peter Kormos is the NDP member.

2. A new police program: 25 and out

Organizations can reveal their inner essence in unexpected ways, and that seems to have occurred recently with the Toronto Police Service.

It occurred during a December 13 hearing of a charge of insubordination against two police officers. The hearing officer, Superintendent Tweedy, recounted the fact that there was acrimony between Sergeant Shawn Elliott and Officer David Deviney, and that probably led to the incident on which the insubordination charge was based. Heres Tweedy:

Their platoon commander, Staff Sergeant Jack Kelly, had instituted a practice of encouraging his officers (in 23 Division, Rexdale) to write 25 traffic tickets during a work shift and then as a reward, allowed the successful officers to go home before the end of their assigned duty. The practice became known as the 25 and out practice.

Deviney, a 30 year veteran, refused to participate, saying the practice was unethical, and he is said to have reported the matter to the Internal Affairs department of the police. Elliot responded, according to Tweedy, by speaking to Devineys colleagues and said they should not speak, socialize or golf with him. (Deviney is a fairly well known police officer in Toronto. In 1990 he was acquitted of manslaughter in the shooting death of Lester Donaldson.)

Subsequent to this, Elliot claims that on May 2, 2005, he told Deviney to write an occurance report on an event in which nothing happened. Deviney and his shift partner said no such order was given, but Elliot brought the charge of insubordination because his order had not been followed. Tweedy decided on the basis of evidence given at the hearing that Elliott did not give such an order. The charges of insubordination were dismissed.

Heres what Tweedy said about `25 and out: I must state that if the `25 and out practice is still an existing practice, I direct that it cease immediately. I find it is an affront to the public interest and cannot be condoned as legitimate law enforcement behaviour, where quotas and personal benefit influence the day. It is but a sad example of unacceptable conduct undermining discipline, undermining unit cohesiveness and contributing to a compromised management and work environment.

There are many questions which remain unanswered:
a) How long was `25 and out in effect? When did it start, when was it stopped, and who stopped it? (One police official says it is not longer in operation, but no date was given when it was cancelled or who made the order.)
b) Have similar programs been used  and are they being used  in other divisions? Which divisions? When?
c) Does a staff superintendent  this is a very senior position in the police department  have the ability to create these kinds of incentives on his/her own? What supervision is provided by the chiefs office for actions taken by a staff superintendent?
d) Why would a staff superintendent for Rexdale ever think that so much emphasis should be put on traffic offences in this part of the city? Given the forces history of racial profiling, who were the individuals who actually received the tickets? Did this program compromise public safety in Rexdale by diverting police resources? Can one assume that the policing of major crime activity in Rexdale decreased because of this priority?
e) After Deviney went to Internal Affairs with his complaint about `25 and out, what did Internal Affairs do? If it did not stop the program, why not?
f) Why was so much time and energy spent by management in pursuing this charge of insubordination? Is this normal behaviour on the part of senior management? Are most cases of insubordination so flimsy and minor? Is this a useful way to spend public funds?

TPAC intends to bring these matters to the attention of the Police Services Board when it next meets in January.

3. Corruption allegations within the Toronto Police Force

Dave Seglins of CBC Radio has discovered that alleged serious internal problems within the police force have been kept under wraps for more than five years.

Apparently the Internal Affairs Department of the Toronto Police Services prepared a report in 2001 about serious problems involving drug squads after some officers had faced criminal and misconduct charges. The report, written by Inspector Tony Corrie proposed that a team of officers prepare an internal investigation on the drug squad. Corrie feared that a large investigation might lead to a full-blown public inquiry, so as an alternative he recommended a process that was smaller and more focussed. Lawyers representing those accused of drug crimes at the time claim their clients had been robbed by members of the drug squad. Presumably it was that kind of allegation that Corries report was attempting to deal with.

Julian Fantino, Police Chief at the time, took the fast and focussed route recommended by Corrie and established a task force which concluded that the problems were under control. However in May 2006, officer Jim Cassels, who had been part of the investigation, said as he was retiring that supervisors had not followed up on the many cases of alleged corruption and abuse the investigation had revealed. Cassels opinion was reinforced this November when another member of the police task force, Neal Ward, confirmed it. The CBC says it learned that officers were suspected of running several drug rings.

When the matter was discussed at the Police Services Board in November, the Chief was asked about the matter. There seemed to be agreement that nothing further could or would be done until the trials of the officers involved had concluded, some time in 2008. While one recognizes the need to ensure officers receive a fair trial, it often seems that questionable activities within the police force never seem to be investigated seriously, in a public way, until the next generation of officers is in charge.

4. 2007 police budget

The Police Services Board has yet to discuss budget estimates for 2007, but its likely that once again the police will try to walk away with the largest increase given to any branch of the citys civil service.

In 2006 the police received an allocation of $751 million from City Council. According to an August 2005 report, for 2007 the police service will be asking for at least $784 million, or about $30 million more, to pay for the 140 additional officers (each additional officer brings an additional expense of about $100,000 a year) and the other expenses that are `uncontrollable.

The Citys problem is that it must cut more than $500 million from its $7.6 billion budget in order to balance its books. The question is: what services will have to be cut so that the police force can continue to expand? Why does the police force have to be so large when the data produced by the police shows that on average each officer answers one call per shift?

5. Policing the RCMP

Many concerns are being expressed in Ottawa about the extent to which the Royal Canadian Mounted Police appears to be disorganized and following an agenda of its own. The focus has mostly been on what the RCMP did to help ensure that Maher Arar was shipped to Syria and tortured, but there are many instances which indicate that the RCMP is not providing a good national policing service. The RCMP is not just involved in national security issues: it provides policing services under contract with a number of provinces.

One very frightening incident in local policing occurred in British Columbia when Ian Bush died in police custody in October 2005, after being arrested for having an open beer outside a hockey game. The spokesman for the RCMP was questioned about what actually happened and replied, The public does not have a right to know anything. Indeed, very little information has come out in the past year about how Mr. Bush died.

Some have wondered whether simply appointing a new Police Commissioner for the RCMP will create the necessary change in that organization. Some suggest that a citizen panel is needed to oversee the RCMP - although the experience with police service boards in Ontario does not lead one to believe that this is an effective mechanism for controlling police culture. Its a big question: how can the police be made to serve the community rather than the other way around? Perhaps smaller police forces would be a start so that the police culture did not have such as large place in which to breed.

6. Subscribe to the Bulletin

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