Toronto Police Accountability Bulletin No. 8

February 1st 2004

1. Looking for a Chief, a draft for comment
2. New York crime declines as the number of officers decrease
3. Making public the detailed police budget
4. Mayor Miller's plan for community safety
5. Subscribe to the Bulletin

1.Looking for a police chief  a draft for comment

The Toronto Police Accountability Coalition has been considering the process which might be used to find a new police chief, since the contract of the current chief, Julian Fantino, expires in March 2005. We have drafted a paper on this matter. We would like feedback and comment, since we hope to revise it for presentation to the Toronto Police Services Board on March 25. We would also like to solicit support and endorsations, both to add names to the brief, and to speak to the Police Services Board on March 25. Feedback and endorsations should be addressed to j.sewell@on.aibn.com by March 2.

Looking for a police chief

The contract for the current Chief of Police of Toronto expires in March, 2005. This provides a reasonable period of time to talk about a process to select a new chief - or renew the contract with the existing chief - in a way that will serve the public interest. It also provides the opportunity to talk publicly about the criteria that should be used in ranking the candidates.

A. A process to select a chief

Before a formal selection process begins there should be a wide-ranging debate on the key issues facing the Toronto Police department and the qualities that would be looked for in a new/renewed chief. This debate should be spear-headed by the Toronto Police Service Board. The Board should publish and distribute a draft paper on this issues involved; it should hold public hearings and meetings on this draft; it should redraft the paper as a result of the feedback, then ask for written submissions on the final draft; and finally it should a final position paper on issues facing the department, and qualities to be sought in a new chief.

This kind of process will help focus the issues and will give much needed public support for policing in Toronto. This debate should be open to all members of the Toronto community, including members of the police force. This debate should occur in the first half of 2004 so that a final paper is produced before the end the Fall 2004.

The advertising, interview and selection process should be undertaken by a group of key people consisting of members of the Toronto Police Service Board, advised by other selected community leaders who represent Toronto's diverse population, and who would be part of the interview and decision-making process. The Board should undertake a Canada-wide, indeed an international, search and should make it clear that the posting is not limited to those who are or who have served with the Toronto Police force. The selection process should be completed no later than the end of January 2005 when the Board announces the appointment of a chief.

B. Criteria in the selection of a chief.

1. Police and other public services
This part of the process should begin by attempting to define how the Toronto Police force relates to other government services and social agencies. In recent years the Toronto Police force has "gone it alone" and has not had the good working relationships with other government agencies or social agencies that one would wish. (For instance, it has consumed extraordinary sums of money which might have been more effectively used by other government programs.) It would be best if we began to restate a new view of how the police work in our society. That view might be as follows:

The Toronto Police Service will work closely with other government departments, social agencies, and community groups to help improve safety and security in the city. The Toronto Police Service recognizes that it alone is incapable of improving security and safety in society but that it is one service among many with that objective.

One of the first questions is whether a candidate for the chief's position shares that vision of policing, and has demonstrated that commitment in the past.

2. Management skills
Superior management skills are often lacking in senior police managers since police managers are required in every case work their way up from the very bottom. Unlike other public and private organizations, good managers are not brought into the police service from other organizations. It is critical that the new chief has demonstrated management skills. These include: the ability to delegate to others; the ability to share decision-making with others; sensitivity to the human needs of his/her immediate staff and other senior managers; ability to encourage the best decisions from others.

Candidates should be asked their opinions on the chief bringing into positions of senior management individuals who may have limited knowledge of policing, but strong management skills. While this has not been done in the Toronto Police force, it is long overdue. Good management has a very positive effect throughout the organization in terms of productivity, imaginative solutions, and personal relationships. In many cases good managers are able to function well in senior positions even though they may not have 'walked the walk' of those they are managing.

3. Finances
The financial demands of the Toronto Police Service are extraordinary, and in their current state are probably unsustainable. Methods must be found of reducing expenditures while delivering first class service. This will probably be accomplished by careful attention to the way money is spent and to carrying out effective research and development experiments about how policing can be best delivered. The chief requires demonstrated skills in this area. This includes an interest in making details of the budget public, and being willing to discuss those details with those interested.

4. Good relationships with the community
As many have pointed out, the success of policing depends to a large extend on the good relationships the police service has with communities and their leaders. In the past it was assumed that this would occur with what was called "community policing", but resources have been stripped away from community policing in the last five years so that its concepts are all but dead in Toronto. Recently there has been an attempt to reestablish better relations with communities by holding Town Hall community meetings which, although welcome, have not forged lasting links.

New attempts must be made to ensure that police and communities feel at ease with each other. This must be done in a cost-effective way which moves beyond simply good public relations into programs that are effective both for police and communities, creating more safety and security, and a sense that crime is under control. There must be an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust. The police force must make much more serious headway in beginning to reflect the racial and cultural diversity of Toronto - the force must proactively recruit and retain members of the diverse communities that exist in Toronto - and officers must be encouraged to live in the city.

5. Accountability
Many have noted in recent years that it does not feel that the police are accountable to the public. This might be a result of the demise of the independent complaints mechanism but it may also be a sign of a broader trend.

Accountability must be re-established. As start, this can be done by the chief making it clear that he/she is accountable to the Police Service Board and to City Council. The chief must require that members of the force be open and transparent in their dealings with the public and with agencies such as the Special Investigations Unit. The chief must support an independent complaints mechanism. The chief must have demonstrated skills in public accountability.

C. Critical issues

In the last few years, several issues have been of great public concern, and the way they are approached will be critical for a chief to be successful. They are as follows:

  1. The chief's recognition of the existence of racial profiling and willingness to take effective action to limit and prevent it.
  2. The chief's support for public expressions of dissent, and a willingness to use police resources to enable the public to demonstrate dissent and not to harass and intimidate demonstrators.
  3. The chief's ability to address corruptions and allegations of corruption within the force.
  4. The chief's support for an independent review of complaints against the police.
  5. The chief's willingness to ensure that strip searches occur as only an extraordinary police procedure (as called for in the Golden decision of the Supreme Court of Canada) , and that such searches as documented and fully reported.
  6. The chief's willingness to implement inquest recommendations (such as the Edmond Yu inquest) and social audit recommendations (such as the Jane Doe Audit.)
  7. The chief will not engage in, and will ensure police officers do not engage in, partisan political activity.

Comment on this draft should be addressed to j.sewell@on.aibn.com.

2. New York crime declines as the number of officers decreases

As reported in The New York Times on December 16, 2003, it's not correct to assume that more officers are needed to reduce the amount of crime. Here's the nub of the story, head-lined 'Safest Big City in the Nation? Once Again, It's New York', written by Shaila K. Dewan, and printed on Page 1 of Section B:

"For the second year running, New York is "the undisputed safest large city in the nation," Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said happily yesterday at a news conference where he and his police commissioner released federal figures showing that the city has continued to push crime down more aggressively than most major cities.

"New York has the lowest overall crime rate among cities with more than one million people, according to their presentation of the preliminary Uniform Crime Report compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for the first half of the year.

"Crime dropped 7.4 percent in New York City, the statistics show, compared with 3.1 percent in the nation as a whole, and 4.4 percent in cities with a population greater than a million. The murder rate was up slightly in New York, as it was nationwide, but the city's rate was still far below its peak in 1990.

"The mayor asserted that the recent resurgence in the economy and tourism was a result of the falling crime rates. "Our outstanding success in fighting crime over the last two years is the biggest reason why the Big Apple is coming back," Mr. Bloomberg said.

"He listed Police Department programs that responded to petty crimes and noise, as well as antigun initiatives and several programs that use courts and city agencies to focus on certain crimes and repeat offenders.

"The police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, stressed that the department had reined in offenses with 4,000 fewer officers than it had three years ago, and with 1,000 of the current 36,000 officers assigned to counterterrorism. He cited programs like Operation Impact, which floods small problem areas with patrol and anticrime officers. "Index crimes in Operation Impact zones are down 33 percent," he said, referring to the index of major crimes that includes murder, rape and grand larceny.

"But Mr. Kelly added, "That reduction has not come without a price." He and the mayor spoke of Rodney J. Andrews and James Nemorin, two detectives shot to death during an undercover drug operation in March, and five other officers shot in the line of duty this year.

"For the mayor, the continuing decline in crime will almost certainly be a major part of his platform as he runs for re-election. In public appearances at churches and neighborhood groups, he rarely fails to mention the statistics in his speeches."

3. Making public the detailed police budget

The Toronto Police Accountability Coalition will be asking the Toronto Police Services Board, at the February 26 meeting, to produce a detailed budget. The presentation says, in part:

"As taxpayers and citizens, we believe it is important that there be full disclosure of the police budget for public review. This is especially true given the size of the police budget relative to other municipal services and the indication that a substantial increase is being sought over last year despite the fact that statistics show crime in Toronto has decreased. Without having seen the budget, we anticipate that its details are probably broken down according to the organizational chart (as appears on the web site, www.torontopolice.on.ca). However, we submit that, if such is the case, the budget should provide details concerning specific significant activities or expenditures, such as:

  1. Expenditures on policing demonstrations
  2. Expenditures on legal costs and settlements
  3. Overtime
  4. Cost of special purpose weekly squads
  5. Expenditures on crime prevention
  6. Expenditures on youth
  7. Expenditures on community policing
  8. Expenditures on foot patrol

"We expect there are other useful categories in which expenditures are analyzed by police management, and we think those would assist in a review of what possibilities exist to consider budgetary impacts.

"The sooner this information is made public, the sooner debate can begin on this important budget. "

The Police Services Board meeting on Thursday February 26 will be held in Committee Room 1, Second Floor, Toronto City Hall, beginning at 1.30 pm.

4. Mayor Miller's plan for community safety

On February 19 Mayor David Miller announced the Community Safety Plan, which will be before city council on March 1 for approval. The key to the Plan is to move away from police chief Julian Fantino's urge for more enforcement, and instead put more emphasis on preventative strategies.

"The Mayor and Council must take decisive action to address the violence," reads the announcement, "and every resident of Toronto must become an active partner in stemming the violence and increasing the peace. The causes of crime are a complex mix of social and economic factors. Thus, solutions must also be multi-faceted. To be successful, the City's approach to improving community safety must balance enforcement with prevention. The central role of the Toronto Police Service in enforcing the law must be complemented by an effective blend of programs and services - particularly for youth who live in at-risk neighbourhoods.

"An effective strategy must build on the strengths in our neighbourhoods, and must engage parents, agencies and youth in determining the fate and future of our communities. The strategy must acknowledge that there are no quick fixes and no one size fits all' solutions. The plan must recognize the need to address all forms of public violence, but must focus on immediate, short and long-term initiatives that address immediate concerns - the recent increase in gun violence and incidents of violence where young people are involved.

"Finally the plan must recognize that significantly increasing economic opportunities for young people is critical to the success of any strategy. At a recent public meeting in Malvern, a youth was quoted as saying, "It's easier to get a gun than a job". This must be a wake-up call for Council and for the public, private, and voluntary sectors to act on employment opportunities and program initiatives."

Miller proposes to create the Mayor's Panel on Community Safety, a body of influential people chaired by chief justice Roy McMurtry. McMurtry said he didn't want police offices on this panel, in order to protect his sense of independence in his role as a judge. The Community Safety Secretariat (which will include police officers) will be the staff arm of the initiative and will help prepare neighbourhood strategies and retarget city and other government programs.

Miller has proposed that City Council provide funds for the Plan in the 2004 budget cycle, although there's been no mention of the scale of funding that's envisioned. Is this a $100 million program over 5 years, or a $2 million collection of add-on programs? Council will have to address this basic question if not at the March 1 meeting, then at the April budget meetings. One can expect that at least some of the extra $50 million requested by the police for the current budget year will be directed to this initiative.

A full copy of the Community Safety Plan proposal can be found in the February 24 agenda of the Policy and Finance Committee at http://www.toronto.ca. Click on 'Council' in the column second from right; then on 'Agendas'; then on 'Policy and Finance Committee'; then on 'Supplementary agenda'; then on item 23. (Sadly, the item is not on the mayor's site - apparently the site is being retooled so that these kinds of announcements are more easily accessible.)

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