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
1. The community evaluation of the carding program
Community Assessment of Police Practices, a report by LogicalOutcomes of police carding practice in 31 Division, is a very serious blow to the Toronto Police Service. The CAPP study was done for the Toronto Police Services Board over the summer of 2014 to determine how the new carding policy adopted by the Board in April was being accepted by the community. LogicalOutcomes engaged local youth in a community based research project, and had its methodology confirmed by the Community Research Ethics Office in Waterloo.
Toronto Police Accountability Bulletin No. 87, November 20, 2014.
Some 400 individuals in 31 Division (the north-west part of Toronto, including Jane Finch and York University) were interviewed and as the study notes, since the interviews were undertaken by youth there was some oversampling of youth and members of the Black community, although as the study also notes, those are two groups that are carded more than anyone else.
Some of the findings:
93 per cent of those surveyed were not aware of the new carding policy. (The Board had refused to undertake the publicity campaign which many had requested.)
- 85 per cent of community members surveyed said they did not receive a receipt as required by the new policy. Obviously police knew they were to provide a receipt, and police did 15 per cent of the time.
- 70 per cent of those surveyed felt they were not free to leave, although the policy stated that officers should tell people they were free to leave.
- 66 per cent felt there was no valid reason for the police to stop them.
- 63 per cent said they thought the police prolonged the contact to extract information from them.
- 52 per cent of the youth surveyed said the police spoke disrespectfully to them.
- 43 per cent of youth surveyed felt intimidated
- 40 per cent of youth surveyed were told by police they `fit the description as though the officer was looking for specifically this person.
The Board indicated on November 13 that the full report would be posted on its web site http://www.tpsb.ca but it was not posted by November 20. The report can be found at http://capptoronto.ca/ .
The report made four recommendations about carding: ban the carding of minors; revise current carding categories to get rid of general categories; destroy all pre-policy contact cards; and impose a 24 month retention limit on contact cards. It made six recommendations about improved community engagements: create a police compliance checklist; better community engagement; fund more community-based research about policing; better police accountability strategies; more public education about policing; and establish a local clinic so people can access information in the police databases.
The report was released at the Board meeting on November 13. Several Board members complained that the data had been published several days earlier in the Toronto Star, but that occurred because the survey results had been reported back to the youth involved, and the newspaper picked it up from them.
Police officials were very critical of the study. Chief Blair said What this report fails to acknowledge is some of the extraordinary work that the men and women of 31 Division and that community are doing in partnership to make it a safer place. He thought the data reflected tensions from twenty years ago and said it is not an accurate reflection of what is happening today.
LogicalOutcomes knew from Toronto Star reports that 31 Division had, in the past carded about 2000 people a month, and it asked for recent data since it was clear that carding had been substantially reduced in Toronto after the Board required officers to provide a receipt. 31 Division did not provide that information, but Blair said police carded only 83 people in 31 Division between June 1 and Aug. 31 less than one person a day. The implication is that the experiences recorded in the survey had occurred before June 1.
Board Chair Dr. Mukherjee was quoted by the Star that the reports findings were extremely disturbing and problematic and represented a crisis in confidence.
Blair characterized those statements as inflammatory, reckless and not in the public interest. That criticism was reiterated by Mike McCormack, president of the Toronto Police Association, who sent out an open letter to members accusing Mukherjee of political grandstanding. The Toronto Police Service Senior Officers Organization re-iterated the attacks on Mukherjee, saying his comments are inaccurate and ill conceived.
Like many other organizations, TPAC generally thinks the report captures the way people feel about carding, and the way the police do carding. TPAC suggested that the Board should prohibit stops by officers unless the individual is suspected to be involved in criminal activity, and that police should not be allowed to stop people just because they `look suspicious, since research into carding has shown that many officers are suspicious of anyone with dark skin.
The Board has called a special meeting on the CAPP report for Wednesday November 26 at 12 noon in Police Headquarters.
2. Replacing Bill Blair as chief
The Toronto Police Services Board decided a few months ago not to renew Chief Bill Blairs contract when it expires in April, but it has never said why it had made that decision, so its not clear what kind of person it thinks should be hired as chief.
Thats compounded by the changing composition of the Board. Four of the Boards seven members are appointed by Toronto City Council, and the terms of all of them expire by the end of the year: Councillors Michael Thompson, Frances Nunziata and Michael Del Grande, and citizen appointee Andrew Pringle. Who knows whether the new City Council will re-appoint some or all of these (except Del Grande, who did not seek re-election.) Theres something of a void at the decision-making level. Blairs contract should have been extended for a few months so the search for a new chief could be carried out by a functioning and cohesive Board.
The Board retained an international search firm to attract candidates, and also retained Diversity Training Plus to conduct a public survey and hold four community meetings to talk about a new chief. The first of the four public meetings was held on October 28, the evening after the municipal election, and attracted eight city residents. Attendance at the other three meetings wasnt much higher.
The survey was posted on the Board web site, to be completed by October 30, and it seems to still be available at http://www.diversitytrainersplus.com/tps_survey/ .
It is entirely based on vague high level values: Do you want someone who respects others? Is committed to diversity and equity? Knows how to manage a big and complex organization? Inspires confidence? Imagine answering no to any of these kinds of questions.
Imagine how useful the survey would be if it asked about hiring a chief who stood for real change: stopping carding and ending racial profiling; reducing the number of people strip searched; refusing to release personal information such as non-conviction or mental health records if no harm to the public is involved.
It is not clear where the search for a new chief is headed.
3. Police operating budget for 2015
Chief Blair has recommended, and the Board agreed on November 13, that the 2015 Operating budget will be $957.7 million, the same as the 2014 expenditure, although this does not include any wage increase since that is being negotiated.
But once again, no budget showing spending by function, program and division, and comparing 2015 spending with previous years, was submitted. Instead, he submitted a report highlighting things he considered important.
The Board let him get away with this last year and the year before that. When TPAC asked to see a full budget last year, one Board member said that it sounded like a good idea, and that the actual budget should be presented for next year, i.e. 2015, but of course it wasnt. Staff told the Board last year that usually the full budget was posted on-line, but that never occurred.
The Board seemed to tell the chief that he should post his budget on line (The whole 200 pages, he asked?) so maybe it will be made public (it is not yet posted) although the Board seems entirely uninterested in looking at it. Perhaps the Board likes the idea that the police service should have a $957.7 million bucket from which it can fund activities. Thank goodness the rest of the city is not run this way.
One question we would like the budget to answer is the savings from the Chiefs Internal Organizational Review, which cost the taxpayer $837,000 in payments to consultants. Did any of the `efficiencies the chief cites in his report to the Board result in savings to the public, and if not why not? If carding has been reduced by 85 per cent – 250,000 fewer stops and carding incidents – how much has been saved?
One question the Board refused to address was the proposal in the chiefs report to increase the force by 150 officers in 2016. No rationale is given about why the number of officers needs to be increased. The Board seemed to just let it drift by.
4. Bargaining with the Toronto Police Association
The Board has set up a web site, http://torontopolicebargaining.com about bargaining for a new contract. Sadly, it says nothing about what the Board is trying to achieve in these negotiations a better shift schedule? Getting rid of the mandatory policy of two officers in a car after dark? – and it allows no feedback. Maybe it is there simply to rattle the Police Association, although that is hardly a good way to reach an agreement.
5. Police misconduct initiative
TPAC is not involved with this initiative, but thought readers of this bulletin may find it of interest. Criminologist Darryl Davies and Ottawa Life magazine publisher Dan Donovan have launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $75,000 to create called www.PoliceMisconductCanada.com . They will work with graduate students in criminology and law to document and report on cases of police misconduct in Canada after those cases have been dealt with by oversight bodies and the courts. Fundraising is at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/339473537/police-misconduct-canada.