Toronto Police Accountability Bulletin No. 69, July 11, 2012.

July 11th 2012

1. Two reports on the G20
2. Recommendations to support on G20 activities
3. Toronto drug squad officers convicted
4. Holding police accountable to the Special Investigation Unit
5. July 17 public meeting

Toronto Police Accountability Bulletin No. 69, July 11, 2012.

This Bulletin is published 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
In this issue:
1. Two reports on the G20
2. Recommendations to support on G20 activities
3. Toronto drug squad officers convicted
4. Holding police accountable to the Special Investigation Unit
5. July 17 public meeting
6. Subscribe to the Bulletin

1. Two reports on the G20

Finally, some two years later, there are two official and well documented reports on police and police board activities during the G20 meetings in Toronto in June 2010.

The 300 page report of Gerry McNeilly, of the Office of the Independent Police Review Director, was released in mid-May, and it presents a very damaging picture. He says the Command Centre became `dysfunctional during the events; it didnt know how many officers were available at any particular time, or for what duties; and communication with officers in the field frequently broke down.

Record keeping by police was so shoddy that the number arrested is unclear. Toronto police give different figures - 1118 or 1112 or 886; RCMP say 1115, and McNeilly concludes the real number is 1140. Often the arresting officer provided no written report on why someone was arrested which is why most charges were dropped. The Complaints Commissioner for the RCMP said RCMP officers arrested only seven people - of which two were under-cover Toronto police officers - but he couldnt say what the arrests were for since the Toronto police did not have any paper work on those seven. Nevertheless, the police service has refused to destroy the records on those arrested as each will learn when they apply for the clearance letter from police that more and more employers ask for.

McNeilly says police officers `seemed to send a message that violence would be met with violence. Officers couldnt keep up with those few who were breaking windows and burning police cars since they were wearing 100 pounds of riot gear and/or the vans carrying them around got stuck in grid-lock and were not authorized to drive through red lights. Cops from outside the city were not provided with maps and didnt know the city well enough to know where to go.

The detention centre on Eastern Avenue was badly planned and managed  there was nowhere for people to make telephone calls or consult with lawyers  and the superintendent decided on his own to keep people there more than 24 hours rather than releasing them.

Countless people were illegally searched by police in various parts of the city because officers were told to do that.

In short, police planned very poorly for the event; the training of the 10,000 or more officers was incomplete and inadequate and very general; the police managers were inept; and virtually all of the personal injuries which occurred were caused by police.

Chief Bill Blairs response to McNeillys report was to charge three dozen officers with misconduct under the Police Services Act. Should we be happy he has finally done something, even if it is almost two years after the events?

The Independent Civilian Review of the G20 Summit was a report by former judge John Morden, commissioned by the Toronto Police Services Board, and it concentrates on the Boards role, and the reporting to it by the police service. This report is also very damaging to the reputation of the police service and the Board.

The Review states, The Board has limited its consultative mandate and viewed it as improper to ask questions about, comment on, and make recommendations concerning operational matters. The Boards approach in this regard has been wrong. (p. 6)

Given the way it limited it functions, the Board did not ask for a contract with the federal government (permitted under the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act); did not engage in planning for the Summit; did not inform itself about plans, or the command or organizational structure. It did not review the `Concept of Operations, a 26 chapter plan prepared by the Toronto Police Service. It did not know what the Toronto police were responsible for (namely the Interdiction Zone around the Restricted and Controlled Access Zones) as well as the rest of the city. It knew nothing about the training of officers (or how faulty it was.) It was not in control of the chief seeking powers under the Public Works Protection Act. It knew nothing about the Eastern Avenue prisoner processing centre - how it was planned or how it would be operated. The Review says the Board should ask the chief to explain the high incidence of strip searches there. (p. 352)

Board Chair Mukherjee discouraged Board members who asked questions about what was happening. The chair initiated a complaint that councillor Adam Vaughan breached the code of conduct by giving his constituents information. The Review concludes: The Boards reaction to Councillor Vaughans newsletter was unwarranted in the circumstances. (p. 238.) When board member Lisa Cohen was asking questions about the Long Range Acoustical Device, Mukherjee said Our responsibility as a board is not to badger the Chief, be suspicious of him or have our noses out of joint because of a news report about something we didnt know about, but to do our part in making sure the city is safe. (p. 230) He did not facilitate an easy discussion of the issue. Morden says I find it unfortunate that her efforts to obtain this information were resisted or at times criticized by Chair Mukherjee. (p. 230)

The Review also concluded that the chief did not provide to the Board enough information to make reasonable decisions about the planning for the G20. Had the Chief provided the Board with more detailed information about how the short time was affecting the Toronto Police Services ability to properly plan and prepare for its policing role, the Board would have had a clearer picture of the potential risks& (p. 10) What is clear from the record is that the Chiefs non-disclosure of certain information to the Board with respect to the G20 Summit led to confusion, or even a complete lack of understanding, among Board members on a number of important policing issues. (p.18)

Regarding general recommendations not relating just to the G20 events, the Review recommends that the Board should work with others to improve the general nature and quality of Board policies (p. 76); the police service should be required to file all procedures and processes (which seems to include all policies) with the Board (p. 76); the Board members should have better training (p. 78-9); there should be a regular interchange with the chief on all information about operations and policy (p. 88); the Board should have a policy that defines when the chief must consult with it about `critical points in what the service is doing (p. 92) so the service shares operational information with the board both before and after the operation (p. 99).

2. Recommendations to support on G20 activities

TPAC is circulating a letter of recommendations flowing from these reports, and asking that those who agree with the letter agree to sign it. If you wish to be a signatory, please send your name, affiliation and email address to us at info@tpac.ca , before July 27. Here is the letter:
July, 2012.

To: Toronto City Council, and
Government of Ontario, Queens Park

The two major reports issued on how the police and those responsible for them acted during the G20 meetings two years ago paint a bleak and disturbing picture of the Toronto police force and how it is managed. The report of Gerry McNeilly of the Office of the Independent Police Review Director focuses on the kinds of things police officers and their supervisors did and didnt do. The report by former judge John Morden focuses on the Toronto Police Services Board and how it has so misinterpreted its role to avoid discussing operational matters that it played no governance role in the planning or operation of the G20 activities of the police service.

We believe it is a time for positive change that provides better policing for the city. Three kinds of changes must be made. Further detail on these recommendations are on the web site http://www.tpac.ca/issues.cfm as the first issue, `A Full letter.

1. Governance

The Morden Review states, in respect to the G20 and the general way the Board operates, The Board has limited its consultative mandate and viewed it as improper to ask questions about, comment on, and make recommendations concerning operational matters. The Boards approach in this regard has been wrong. (p. 6.)

Much of the Review is filled with examples of how the Board refused to provide any oversight of any of the matters regarding the G20. The Review notes that Chair Mukherjee resisted or at times criticized Board members who asked questions. (p. 230)

We believe the Chair must be dismissed, and the members of the current Board (none of whom served during the G20) must commit to exercise their duties as proposed by Mr. Morden, or resign. Further, the Board must be expanded to at least fifteen members, and they should all receive appropriate training for their role as governors of the police.

2. Police culture

Police culture  police solidarity, violence, little respect for civilians, little regard for the niceties of the law - played a very significant role in how events unfolded at the G20. Actions must be taken to minimize this police culture in the future. This can be done in a number of ways:

a) Instead of hiring officers with general skills in entry level positions and having them work their way up the ranks, the police service must become like most other organizations in society: it should hire individuals to perform specific roles and jobs. Hiring particular individuals to fill roles in the police because of the skills they have will mean that these individuals can bring their own set of beliefs picked up in other organizations to the job and the police force.
b) Training for recruits should occur at an established college or university (and include placements in the community) so recruits are part of a mainstream educational environment rather than at the Ontario Police College, located in a very small community in southern Ontario.
c) The police service should act like other big organizations and look outside  in manufacturing, banking, retailing, social services and community organizations  to find good managers to recruit rather than only looking inside the service, then train them for the specific needs in policing.

3. Police managers

Police Chief Blair should be dismissed with cause, and other senior managers should be disciplined and where appropriate, dismissed. Mr. Morden makes it clear that Chief Blair hindered the Board in providing effective oversight during the G20, and he did not carry out his duty to ensure the police force upheld the law. Regarding other senior managers, currently not enough information has been made available to show exactly who was in control of what. When that information is available, action must be taken against those managers.

We the undersigned urge Toronto City Council and the Provincial Government to ensure these recommendations are put into place.

3. Toronto Drug Squad officers convicted

We have reported in the past about the investigations made and charges laid against former members of a Toronto drug squad. (See Bulletin No. 47, May 2009; Bulletin No. 46, March 2009; Bulletin No. 32, December 2006; Bulletin No. 7, January 2004; all found at http://www.tpac.ca, Bulletins.)

After a trial that began in January (eight years after the charges had been laid) and ended in mid-June, and jury deliberations that lasted nine days, five officers were found guilty of obstructing justice; three of those officers were also found guilty of perjury. They were found not guilty on several other charges including extortion, assault, and so forth. The best summary of this lengthy process can be found in an article by Toronto Star reporters Peter Small and Jim Rankin,

Sentencing is scheduled for November. Police lawyers are talking about appealing the convictions.

4. Holding police accountable to the Special Investigation Unit

It is well known that many police forces treat the Special Investigation Unit with contempt. The SIU is charged with looking at all instances where people are injured or killed by police. (See Bulletin No. 59, March 2011.)

TPAC thought it would be useful if the Toronto Police Services Board had a policy on the matter, and at the Board meeting on May 17, we made the following presentation:

Many stories have become public in recent months outlining that both officers and Ontario Police Services, including the Toronto Police Service have failed to notify, correspond, and co-operate with Ontarios Special Investigations Unit (SIU). While numerous complaints have been voiced against the actions of police services other than Toronto, it makes good sense for the Toronto Police Services Board to take a leadership position and adopt a policy of its expectations regarding compliance by the Toronto Police Service with the SIU. Such a policy may work to restore, perhaps even enhance, public confidence in that the investigation of Toronto Police officers is conducted in a fair, balanced, and non-obstructive manner.

The policy should encompass the following issues:

(1) Definition of `Serious Injuries
There has been enough confusion about what kind of injury requires a call by the police to the SIU that former judge Patrick LeSage was asked by the provincial government to report on an appropriate definition. He did that last year, and while the recommendations he proposed to change regulations have been enacted by the provincial government, that dealing with serious injuries has not. While police forces remain in limbo on this issue, it makes sense for the Board to state that it adopts the LeSage proposal for Toronto at this time. It is referred to as the `Osler definition and reads as follows:

Serious injuries shall include those that are likely to interfere with the health or comfort of the victim and are more than merely transient or trifling in nature and will include serious injury resulting from sexual assault.
Serious injury shall initially be presumed when the victim is admitted to hospital, suffers a fracture to a limb, rib or vertebrae or to the skull, suffers burns to a major portion of the body or loses any portion of the body or suffers loss of vision or hearing, or alleges sexual assault. Where a prolonged delay is likely before the seriousness of the injury can be assessed, the Unit should be notified so that it can monitor the situation and decide on the extent of its involvement.

(2) Correspondence
Correspondence to members of the police force from the SIU or its representatives shall be acknowledged and responded to without delay.

(3) Complying with legislation and regulations
Failure to comply with legislation and/or regulation respecting immediately contacting the SIU regarding an incident, or separating subject and witness officers, or reporting incidents, or complying with SIU investigations or requests, will result in charges laid by the Professional Standards Unit against the parties involved under the Police Services Act.

(4)Failure to notify
In the event that an incident occurs and the Police Service fails to notify the SIU without delay, immediate disciplinary action will be commenced by the Professional Standards Unit against the appropriate parties. 

The Police Board showed not one bit of interest in the presentation, and voted to simply receive the brief - that is, to do nothing.

On July 6, the Toronto Star reported that in 2011, less than 40 per cent of Toronto subject officers (that is, the officers who took the lead action in the case being investigated) agreed to be interviewed by the SIU or to turn their notes over to the SIU. See http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/crime/article/1222320--police-across-gta-rarely-fully-co-operate-with-siu-statistics-show

It is true that subject officers have a right to refuse to talk to the SIU  no one is required to self-incriminate - but it is a bit weird that those who are being paid to do a job are exempted from giving their perspective when it is thought they may not have done their job properly. Whats weirder is that Chief Blair has been very clear that officers notebooks belong to the police force, not to the officer, yet those notebooks are often withheld from the SIU.

TPAC will attempt to again bring this matter before the Board.

5. July 17 public meeting

TPAC is holding a public forum titled THE USUAL SUSPECTS on Tuesday, July 17, at 7 pm, room 106, at The 519 Community Centre, 519 Church Street, just north of Wellesley, just east of Yonge.

The main purpose of the forum is to discuss carding and profiling from the point of view of racialized youth, who we are specifically inviting to attend and talk at this meeting. We will also discuss strategy for the July 19 Police Services Board meeting where the issues of carding will again be addressed, following the decision made by the Board on this issue on April 19.

6. 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.
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Toronto Police Accountability Coalition
E-mail: info@tpac.ca