Home / Commentary / BAD-C Blasts Police Board On Its “Community Engagement Policy”

BAD-C Blasts Police Board On Its “Community Engagement Policy”

The following release, sent to Pride News Magazine, last week, was written by Kingsley P. Gilliam, a Director of the Black Action Defense Committee (BAD-C).

Having got a chance to review what is being proposed as the Community Engagement Policy of the Toronto Police Services Board and the Joint Statements of the Board and Police Chief William Blair.

I am absolutely appalled and horrified by some aspects of the content of these guidelines and by the events that have led to this revised, watered down version of the Policy, as well as some critical features of the current policy which have been omitted from this Draft Policy.

Essentially, The Board has taken upon itself to make constitutional law (a role that devolves to the Parliament of Canada under the Constitution), by giving the police the authority to stop and interrogate any person, without having reasonable and probable grounds for assuming that the individual has committed an offence, or are likely to commit an offence.

This is in definite violation of the Rights protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

This Policy therefore, constitutes an attempt to amend the Charter of Rights And Freedoms by the Police Services Board and the Chief of police, with the aid of an old retired Judge whose rulings should be researched.

It is incongruent with the charter, the Human Rights Code and the Police Services Act, all of which the policy purports to uphold.

Most of the language in the policy is from the regular police vernacular, including the new proposed name for the Policy, “Police Engagement” All of police activities are engagements, however, sometimes the engaged persons end up badly injured, and/or many of them end up dead.

The police Chief after assuming the role of the board, in order to determine how this policy will be carried out, and after discarding years of public consultations, deputations and recommendations, stresses the importance of public consultation, which he will seek from the PACER Committee. The Pacer Report is an internal Police document. It recommended retaining the carding for public safety reasons, despite the plethora of federal statutes that give police powers for public safety and security.

What is striking about this is that it is supported by the Police Union. Mike McCormack in a television interview stated that, “it strikes the right balance between the police and the rights of individuals.”

When one understands his extreme positions in defending the interest of his members, one can clearly understand that the Board has caved in and surrendered the rights of citizens to the police. In other words, they have done what Deputy Chief Pete slowly said he would not do, when it comes to carding, “throw out the baby with the bath water”.

To add insult to injury, the proposed Police Engagement Policy reaffirms what the police has been doing for a long time, trampling on people’s charter rights.

The Police Services Board, if it approves this draft Policy, will surrender its role of employer and its Oversight responsibilities to the Chief.

This clearly shows who is Boss — the Police Chief.

It should be noted in its true context, that after intense community pressure, the Police Services Board amended its draft policy last April, and approved it with substantial community support. Despite that, Chief William Blare defied the Board and the policy, and flagrantly refused to implement it.

In Employment Terms, he was downright insubordinate to his employer. Under Ontario and Canada’s labor law, insubordination is cause for immediate dismissal, and it is not subject to progressive discipline.  Yet, instead of firing the Chief for insubordination, the newly reconstructed Police Services Board, with a Mayor who stated publicly that he will not engage in conflict nor controversy with the police nor the Board, retained the services of a retired Judge to mediate between the employer and the insubordinate employee, Chief William Blair.

It is ironic, that whenever the police are in difficulties, they seek refuge from former allies who have been retired from the bench.

What spectacle is this? This is the same Chief William Blair who created TAVIS, which has been abusing citizens’ rights, and racially profiling Black and Brown people at an alarming rate. It is the same Chief William Blair who presided over the G8 police abuses, and to whom the Board proposes to delegate its authority for regulating the conduct of police.

The Board has no powers to delegate its responsibilities under the Police Services Act. Therefore, this policy is ultra vires.

Section 31 (1) below sets out the Powers of the Police services Board.

The following is the actions of this new draft policy:  

  1. It removes the directive that requires the police to give a receipt to each person they stop on the street showing why he/she was stopped as well as any information which was collected from him/her. This undermines the accountability of police officers.
  2. It removes the ability of researchers to obtain and analyze statistics on police actions; the number, gender and racial composition of those who were stopped, so that there can be no more embarrassing analysis of police data, because there will be no record.

This is akin to when the Government of Canada ceased the collection by race of court and prison statistics.  The prisons were full of Aboriginal Peoples, but officially there were no Aboriginal Peoples recorded in the system.

  1. It removes the requirement of an officer to advise the person stopped for questioning that he/she has the right not to speak and to walk away. This also, is guaranteed under The Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  2. Finally it gets Mayor John Tory what he wanted to have – i.e. peace with the police at all costs.  However, while he gets the favor of the police, he has sacrificed the good will of all Torontonians who are fed up with police abuses, the giant raids and bullying such as the kittling that Chief Blair oversaw in the G8 conference.

The responsibilities of the Board that are set out below are not transferable and should not be delegated.

Therefore the Board is opening up itself to litigation on several fronts, due to the fact that:

(a) It is the Employer of The Chief; (b) It is the oversight body for Police services; (c) It is the

body responsible for setting policy to govern the conduct of officers;  (d) It is the Directing  Mind of the Organization.

All of the above functions require the due diligence of the board, and failure to exercise this is wreckless and negligent

Responsibilities of boards

  1. (1)A board is responsible for the provision of adequate and effective police services in the municipality and shall,

(a) appoint the members of the municipal police force;

(b) generally determine, after consultation with the chief of police, objectives and priorities with respect to police services in the municipality;

(c) establish policies for the effective management of the police force;

(d) recruit and appoint the chief of police and any deputy chief of police, and annually determine their remuneration and working conditions, taking their submissions into account;

(e) direct the chief of police and monitor his or her performance;

(f) establish policies respecting the disclosure by chiefs of police of personal information about individuals;

(g) receive regular reports from the chief of police on disclosures and decisions made under section 49 (secondary activities);

(h) establish guidelines with respect to the indemnification of members of the police force for legal costs under section 50;

(i) establish guidelines for dealing with complaints under Part V, subject to subsection (1.1);

(j) review the chief of police’s administration of the complaints system under Part V and receive regular reports from the chief of police on his or her administration of the complaints system. R.S.O. 1990, c. P.15, s. 31 (1); 1995, c. 4, s. 4 (7); 1997, c. 8, s. 21 (1-3); 1997, c. 17, s. 8; 2007, c. 5, s. 9 (1).

If this Board does not have the stomach or knees to fulfill these responsibilities, all of its members should resign.

Delegating to the Police Chief its responsibility to set policy  to regulate such a nefarious practice as carding, is akin to a police Officer giving his gun to a criminal to protect the public, or to putting a fox in the Chicken coup to protect the chickens.

In light of this development, if the Police Services Board in its wisdom, approves this policy.

The Black Action Defense Committee will launch a charter Challenge relevant to the first Black person that the police stops without a bone fide reason.

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