Toronto Police Accountability Bulletin No. 113, April 15, 2019

April 15th 2019

1. Strip search study
2. Settlement with Toronto Police Association
3. Conducted Energy Weapon usage
4. Future of police oversight

Toronto Police Accountability No. Bulletin 113, April 15, 2019

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
In this Bulletin:
1. Strip search study
2. Settlement with Toronto Police Association
3. Conducted Energy Weapon usage
4. Future of police oversight
5.Subscribe to the Bulletin

1. Strip search study

Police in Ontario conduct well over 22,000 strip searches a year. It is extremely concerning that almost two decades after the Golden decision, police continue to conduct strip searches in violation of the law. &. Consistent, comprehensive policies and procedures, proper documentation, adequate statistics, and effective training are all required to ensure strip searches are only done when needed, and that they are done in accordance with the law.

Thats how Gerry McNeilly, the former Independent Police Review Director, sums up his report on strip searches in Ontario, `Breaking the Golden Rule.

A companion report, Summary of Ontario Jurisprudence Involving Strip Searches Post R. v. Golden, summarizes 89 cases involving strip searches in which courts found violations of the Canadian Charter of Rights. Forty of those cases involved the Toronto police. In 70 of those cases nothing was found during the strip search.

Most of the 53 police services in Ontario do not have data about the number of strip searches officers carry out. Police services with fewer than 100 officers almost never do such searches.

The larger police services which do not have data about strip searches are: Belleville, Guelph, Halton Region, London, Niagara Region, North Bay, Peterborough, Sarnia, Thunder Bay, York Region. Peel Region has limited data.

The number of strip searches per arrest by police forces with more than 400 officers (which had data) was consistently less than 1 per cent in Durham Region, Hamilton, OPP, Ottawa, Peel Region, and Windsor. Toronto was the only service which strip searched more than 1 per cent of those arrested  it strip searched 40 per cent of those arrested, and the report concludes `they conduct far too many strip searches.

TPAC has asked for the last ten years that strip searches in Toronto be done on only 5 per cent of those arrested, but as the data makes clear (and as the report states) this is far too high a ratio.

Of the police services (with data) with 100 to 400 officers, only Sudbury strip searched more than 1 per cent of those arrested  it strip searched almost 6 per cent of those arrested.

The report recommends that a strip search may not be conducted until after a frisk or wand search is conducted. If it is negative, then no strip search may be done. (TPAC has asked the Toronto Police Services Board for the last five years to adopt such a policy but it has always refused.) Strip searches must be authorized in advance by a supervisor. The report favours full body scans, now being piloted by Toronto police.

The report also recommends that the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services update the Policing Standards Manual (not updated since 2000, the year before the Supreme Court decision in the Golden case on strip searches) and most particularly the Search of Persons Guideline.

The Search of Persons Guideline should provide policies, procedures and practices respecting searches across the province, as well as a clear definition of a strip search (drawn from the Golden decision), and greater specificity around whether and how strip searches are conducted, authorized or supervised.

All police services should keep accurate statistics of the number of persons they arrest or detain, the number of persons strip searched, including race-related statistics, and training on strip searches should happen annually or biennially.

This is a very strong and useful report. The question is whether the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services will act on it, given how many times it has said that police are burdened with too many restraints. To date, the Ministry has not said that it intends to implement the recommendations.

And a further concern  Gerry McNeillys term as head of the OIPRD ended on March 31. He was given little notice before he was told he would not be renewed. It is unclear who will replace him.

2. Settlement with Toronto Police Association

The Toronto Police Services Board reached a settlement with the Toronto Police Association for a five year agreement resulting in a wage increase of 11 per cent.

This is a handsome salary increase compared to what other municipal employees in Toronto can expect. And for Primary Response unit officers, there is even more  they received an extra 3 per cent salary increase each year, beginning in September of 2019. The cost in 2019 is $2.1 million, and the cost for each year thereafter is more than $6 million. For Primary Response Unit officers with five years experience {they now earn $100,000 annually) this is a significant increase.

The agreement notes that changes in shift schedule are now underway (as reported in Bulletin 112) but those changes are not reflected in the 2019 operating budget.
The new Collective Agreement contains one sentence about two officers in a cars: Where the parties agree that officer and public safety will not be compromised, they may mutually agree to modify or waive the application of the two officer patrol car requirement in order to improve the capacity of the Service to more flexibly meet operational demands, including through scheduling changes.
However minor, this is a change in the right direction.

The new agreement also states that some 130 retired officers may be hired to act in a part-time capacity, paid about 75 per cent of the full officer rate.

As usual, there is nothing police officers can complain about in this collective agreement.
3. Conducted Energy Weapons use.

A report before the Toronto Police Services Board on March 26 showed that CEWs were used 547 times in 2018, 207 times with those in mental crisis. By comparison, in 2015, CEWs were used 303 times, and in 2013, 192 times. In those years, CEW use with those in mental crisis was about 40 per cent. This means a three fold increase of CEW use in the last five years, including with those in mental crisis.

TPAC and others predicted this would unfortunately occur if most officers had CEWs. TPAC urged the Board to reconsider CEW deployment, and to limit it to the Emergency Task Force and supervisors. The Board decided not restrict CEW use.

4. Future of police review in Ontario

The government of Premier Doug Ford has announced it will reduce funding to the Special Investigation Unit by 30 per cent, and has not extended the contract of Gerry McNeilly at the Office of the Independent Review Director which ended on March 31. The powers of both bodies have been slightly curtained in the new police act.

The future of police oversight is very uncertain. The deputy minister of Community Safety is a friend of Doug Ford  he pushed to hire Ron Taverner as chief of the Ontario Provincial Police, although Taverner eventually withdrew. It is unclear who will be appointed to lead either body.

5. 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