Toronto Police Accountability Bulletin No. 109

July 16, 2018.
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
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In this Bulletin:
1. New executive director for Police Board
2. Premier Ford delays police reforms
3. Inquiry into missing persons police policy
4. Gun violence and the number of police officers
5. Body scans to replace strip searches?
6. Pre-charge screening
7. Honouring Charles Roach
8. Subscribe to the Bulletin
1. New Executive Director for Police Board
The appointment of Ryan Teschner as Executive Director of the Toronto Police Board seems like an interesting appointment which could make the Board much more active in policing matters.
Teschner was one of the government leads on the provincial government’s package of policing, police governance and police oversight reforms embodied in the Safer Ontario Act, 2017. He was also lead counsel to Judge John Morden in the review of the Toronto Police Service Board’s handling of the G20 summit in 2010, which argued the Board had an obligation to set operational policy. (See Bulletin No. 69, July 11, 2012, and Bulletin No. 70, August 10, 2012.)
Board Chair Andy Pringle said that “with Mr. Teschner’s appointment, the Board has selected an exceptional individual who has a remarkable awareness of the issues facing the Board and this city today. With his impressive background, unique strategic ability and dedication to bridge-building and dialogue, he is uniquely positioned to take on this role at a time of significant policing transformation in Toronto and across Ontario.”
He starts his new position on July 16.
2. Premier Ford delays police reforms.
Premier Doug Ford, elected in June, announced he will not implement the changes proposed in the Safe Ontario Act to police oversight bodies.
It is not clear exactly what he has done. Has he stopped the proclamation of the whole Act? Has he simply expressed an intention? Is he simply challenging some of the changes?  So far, there are no details. Many of the Act’s changes to police review agencies were recommended by Mr. Justice Tulloch, who is now completing a follow-up report due in January. No announcement has been made about his role.
But the Throne speech delivered on July 12 is pretty explicit: the government intends to  “free police from onerous restrictions that treat those in uniform as subjects of suspicion and scorn. “ Many people believe that kind of statement raises concerns about the reintroduction of targeted policing, random stops, police in schools, and so forth.
Ford announced during the election that he was going to re-establish TAVIS units in Toronto, where police stop and question people at random, mostly in lower income neighbourhoods.  The decision of the Toronto police chief Saunders in reaction to gun violence in the city was to add 200 more officers policing some communities during evening hours – is this the reestablishment of TAVIS, although Chief Saunders says it is not?
3. Inquiry into missing persons police policy
The Toronto Police Service Board has established an inquiry into how the Toronto police deal with missing persons. Justice Gloria Epstein, retiring on September 1 from the Ontario Court of Appeal, will lead the inquiry. Lawyer Mark Sandler will be the review counsel – he has been involved in numerous reviews and commissions. A sum of $3 million has been set aside for the review.
The review will “conduct an Independent Review into Board policies as well as Service procedures and practices in relation to missing person investigations, particularly those involving individuals from the LGBTQ2S+, immigrant, homeless and other marginalized communities.” It will not look into the precise issues involved in the alleged serials killings in the gay community attributed to Bruce McArthur.
4. Gun violence and the number of police officers
Mike McCormack, president of The Toronto Police Association, has said the increase in gun related deaths in Toronto is a result of the reduction in number of police officers, as the Board attempts to modernize the police force. There were 5635 officers in 2010, and 4860 now.
“Cutting police resources and not being proactive is clearly not working,” McCormack said. “All we’re really doing now is reactive policing.”
Except that the evidence does not bear out his statements. It was in 2016 that officers essentially stopped conducting street checks, a.k.a. carding; the TAVIS unit was scrubbed; and the service began streamlining as part of a transformational change aimed at modernizing policing. Even with the cut back in the number of officers, police documents indicate that in 2016 some 250,000 provincial offence tickets were issued – almost 5000 a week – and more than 2 million documented contacts with members of the public, as well as more than 500 arrests each week.
It seemsthe number of officers has little impact on gun crimes. As editorials in Toronto newspapers have argued, we need to try new strategies to address gun crimes – real, long-term investments in marginalized communities (housing, child care, welfare reform) and supports that are targeted to vulnerable youth.
And as TPAC has argued strongly in the past, changes in the shift schedule and two-officers in a car strategy are needed to begin assigning officers to times when they are needed, both changes that the Toronto Police Association has opposed. (See Bulleitn No. 105, September 21, 2017.
5. Body scans to replace strip searches?
The police service is proposing a six month study of the use of body scanners as an alternative to strip searchers. See https://www.torontopolice.on.ca/fullbodyscanner/
TPAC supports this study, since on the surface it seems body scanners will be much less intrusive than strip searches and therefore much less threatening to those searched. But we fear the number of searches will increase and we have proposed scan searches should only be done where there  is a reasonable belief that the person is concealing weapons or drugs. We have asked for reports on numbers undertaken, including by race, and the costs and efficiencies involved.
The Board has refused to place our letter on a Board agenda, saying we should raise our concerns when the chief calls a community meeting on this matter sometime in the fall. This raises the old question: when will the Board takes responsbility for the operational policies of the police? Surely the way the police conduict body searches uis a matter deserving to the Board’s attention.
6. Pre-charge screening
TPAC has published a report on the merit of pre-charge screening (see Bulletin 104, June 12, 2017), and we met in 2017 with the then Attorney General Yasir Naqvi who informed us that a year long pilot project was under way in both Toronto and Ottawa to determine its feasibility.
Recntly we inquired before the June provincial election about the results of those pilot projects and received the following response from a ministry official:
“I must offer a clarification that the role of the Embedded Crowns is not to approve the laying of charges. In Ontario, the investigation and laying of criminal charges is a function of police services and is independent of the Attorney General.  It is the sole responsibility of police to investigate allegations of criminal conduct, make decisions on whether or not to lay charges, and lay charges if they decide they have reasonable and probable grounds to do so.
“The Embedded Crowns, who are in place at the Toronto Police Service’s 51 Division and with the Ottawa Police Service, provide real-time advice and support on bail decisions to police upon request, and work with police and community-based health and social service agencies on meaningful alternatives to criminal charges for vulnerable, low-risk accused who do not belong in the criminal justice system; in particular, those with mental health issues.  The Embedded Crowns have specialized expertise in bail and the challenges facing vulnerable individuals who come into contact with the criminal justice system.
“In some cases where these vulnerable individuals – such as those experiencing poverty, homelessness, mental illness, and addictions – are charged with minor offences, community-based solutions can be an effective alternative to the criminal justice system. When individuals are connected with appropriate resources and supports in the community, they are more likely to achieve stability and less likely to commit further criminal offences.
“The Embedded Crown initiative has been invaluable at strengthening the relationship and improving communication between the Crown, police and other justice partners.”
TPAC responded asking for clarification about intentions and results, but was told no information would be released until after the election.
7. Honouring Charles Roach
It has now been almost six years since Charles Roach passed away.
At 7 p.m. on July 18 there will be a ceremony honouring Charley by naming a laneway after him.
Charley Roach Lane  runs east-west between Rushton Road and Arlington
Avenue, just north of St. Clair Avenue. The laneway is very close to the building that housed the offices of Roach, Schwartz for many years.
As a civil rights lawyer and activist, Charley made extraordinary
contributions to many struggles against racism and other injustices. Much of his legal work was pro bono, helping marginalized people with a huge variety of problems and furthering fights for social justice. He also organized a number of cultural events, and was the founding Chair of Caribana in 1967.
8. 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.
— John Sewell
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