TPAC
Toronto Police Accountability Coalition
 

Issues

Safer Ontario Act, TPAC brief to Legislative Commitee



Letter

February 07 2018

Description:
Toronto Police Accountability Coalition
info@tpac.ca , www.tpac.ca

January 20, 2018.

Standing Committee on Justice:
Ontario Legislature

Subject: Safer Ontario Act, Bill 175

This new legislation replaces and adds to the Police Services Act, and this offers the opportunity of ensuing that the legislation governing police activities is appropriate for the early 21st century. We believe that words and ideas in the Police Services Act do not reflect current policing realities, and rather than simply repeating them in the new legislation as is done in much of the Safer Ontario Act, they should be amended to reflect current realities.

Many of the new parts of the Safer Ontario Act concern changes to bodies established to review police action after they have been taken. We generally support those changes.

However, the best way to ensure good management of police services is not to tinker with mechanisms to review police actions after the fact, but instead to clearly state the duties and expectations of the bodies which manage police and carry out policing, and ensure those bodies fulfil their mandates. These changes will strengthen policing and hopefully reduce the need for such extensive after-the-fact review.

The Safer Ontario Act does not do this: it puts much of the emphasis on changing review mechanisms, but those mechanisms, no matter how good they are, only kick in after the fact.

Our recommendations for change relate to the need to strengthen legislation around governance, particularly Police Service Boards, and the roles of police officers themselves.

Section 1

Section 1 is the Declaration of principles about police services. This section is unchanged from Section 1 of the Police Services Act. Several subsections require amendments to reflect emerging issues and concerns. What we propose is self-explanatory.

Section 1(3) states: "The need for co-operation between the providers of police services and the communities they serve."
It should be amended read: "The need for co-operation between the provider of police services, social agencies and institutions, private security companies, and the communities they serve, including the establishment of formal methods of interaction."

Section 1(4) states: "The importance of respect for victims of crime and understanding of their needs."
It should be amended to read: "The importance of respect for those in mental crisis and the victims of crime and the understanding of their needs."

Subsection 1(5) states: "The need for sensitivity to the pluralistic, multiracial and multicultural character of Ontario society."
It should be amended to read: "The need for respect for and sensitivity to the pluralistic, multiracial, multi-ethnic, and multicultural character of Ontario society and to the disparity of incomes."

Section 1(6) states: "The need to ensure that police forces are representative of the communities they serve."
It should be amended to read: "The need to ensure that police services reflect the values of, and are sexually and culturally representative of, the communities they serve."

Section 11

Section 11 (unchanged from Section 4(2) of the Police Services Act save for the reference to the Charter of Rights and Freedom) defines minimum core police services to include crime prevention, law enforcement, assistance to victims of crime, public order maintenance, and emergency response.

The list should be amended to be more reflective of what officers actually do. Core police services should be as follows:

1. Respond to, and investigate, in a timely fashion, violence, threats of violence and crime, criminal acts and public disorder
2. Investigate the incidents in 1
3. Undertake, with other social institutions and agencies and civil society organizations, steps to prevent crime and criminal behaviour including, where appropriate, diverting individuals from the criminal justice system
4. Co-ordinate activities with private security firms and other organizations within the security web, to create the most effective approach to a safer and more secure society.
5. Extend assistance to victims of crime
6. Protect and respect human rights and the rule of law.

Section 31

Section 31 establishes the size of Police Service Boards, ranging from five to nine members. The modest increase in the size of Boards is welcome, but to reflect diversity and encourage debate, Boards should be even larger, and should represent a variety of interests.

Section 31 should provide that Boards serving a population of more than 200,000 shall consist of no less than 12 members.

Section 37

Section 37 (unchanged from Section 31 of the Police Services Act) outlines the responsibilities of boards. It should include other matters to ensure the Board is effective and responsible to the community. The following subsections should be added:
"(k) review and approve annual operating and capital budgets"
"(l) encourage community discussion of policing issues and lead public debate on policing issues and policies"
"(m) ensure active research on police activities and efficiencies"
"(n) regularly review the structure of the police force and the policies by which it operates"
"(o) ensure that before new technology is purchased or used by the police service that appropriate constraints are in place that the technology does not infringe on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms; and
"(p) ensure the police service is pursuing its core services as set out in Section 4."

Section 38

Section 38 deals with the Board's responsibilities for policy. The list does not make it sufficiently clear that the Board is responsible for operational policies. The Morden commission, which looked into the Toronto Police force and the G20, thought the Board had not fulfilled its duty in regard to operational policy, possibly because of an improper interpretation of the Section 31 of the Police Services Act.

Section 38(5) states: "The police service board shall not make policies with respect to specific investigations, the conduct of specific operations, the deployment of members of the police service, the management or discipline of specific police officers or other prescribed matters."

But this states duties in the negative. The legislation should also state that the Board indeed should establish general operational policy, although it should not be involved in day-to-day decisions. It should be amended to state:

"The police service board shall establish policies for the effective management and operation of the police service but it shall not make policies with respect to specific investigations, the conduct of specific operations, the deployment of members of the police service, the management or discipline of specific police officers or other prescribed matters."

(The words underlined are to be added.)

Section 109

Section 109 (unchanged from Section 42 of the Police Services Act) sets out the duties of a police officer. They need to be brought up to date. These duties should begin by reflecting the core police services set out in Section 11, noted above. The section should be amended to read:

Section 109. (1) The duties of a police officer are to
(a) Respond to and investigate, in a timely fashion, violence, threats of violence and crime, criminal acts and public disorder;
(b) Undertake, with other social institutions and agencies and civil society organizations, steps to prevent crime and criminal behaviour including, where appropriate, diverting individuals from the criminal justice system;
(c) Co-ordinate activities with private security firms and other organizations within the security web, to create the most effective approach to a safer and more secure society;
(d ) Extend assistance to victims of crime; and
(e) Protect and respect human rights and the rule of law.

The current Section 109 (1) can then become Section 109(1A) , stating:

The duties of a police officer also include
(a) preserving the peace;
(b) preventing crimes and other offences and providing assistance and encouragement to other persons in their prevention;
(c) assisting victims of crime;
(d) apprehending criminals and other offenders and others who may lawfully be taken into custody;
(e) laying charges and participating in prosecutions;
(f) executing warrants that are to be executed by police officers and performing related duties;
(g) performing the lawful duties that the chief of police assigns;
(h) in the case of a municipal police force and in the case of an agreement under section 10 (agreement for provision of police services by O.P.P.), enforcing municipal by-laws.


Section 151

Section 151 deals with suspension of officers without pay. Section 89 of the Police Services Act permits a police officer to be suspended, but only with pay. The new Section 151 permits suspension without pay in cases where an officer has been convicted of a criminal offence and sentences to imprisonment, is in detention, or is charged with a `serious' offence not related to duties. We believe there may be other cases where the actions of the officer charged are such that there is no merit continuing to pay that officer. The police chief should have the ability to suspend an officer with or without pay. Officers have a strong grievance process, so there is little chance the chief will decide rashly to suspend without pay, and where that happens, the chief's decision will be challenged. This change has already been made in other provinces.

Accordingly, Sections 151 should be amended to read "The chief may, in appropriate circumstances, suspend an officer from duty without pay."



Yours very truly,

John Sewell for
Toronto Police Accountability Coalition



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