By Michael Van Cooten
TORONTO, Ontario (Wednesday, March 31, 2021) — The Toronto Police Service (TPS) — in collaboration with the Police and Community Engagement Review (PACER) Committee — has officially launched its Know Your Rights campaign, aimed at informing the public about its legal rights, and a police officer’s responsibilities, during various types of interactions.
Given the historical impact of carding — which was banned by the provincial government in 2017 — on Black, Indigenous, and racialized communities, one of the campaign’s objectives is to provide information to citizens, about what their legal rights are, when engaging with police.
“Know Your Rights gives communities the tools to demystify dialogue with our police officers, and clarifies the misperceptions that all parties may bring to all types of engagement,” said James Ramer, Interim Chief of the Toronto Police Service.
“The TPS is grateful to our PACER community partners for their guidance, in helping us to meet communities, where they are, and we look forward to more work together.”
The Know Your Rights campaign rolls out in the community and online with content, available on popular social media platforms and sites, including Instagram, Tik Tok, and Facebook. It sets the stage to facilitate movement toward better outcomes, between the TPS and Black, Indigenous, and racialized communities.
The PACER Committee is co-chaired by Stacy Clarke, TPS Unit Commander of the Community Partnerships and Engagement Unit; and Audrey Campbell, former President of the Jamaican Canadian Association (JCA).
It is comprised of both police and civilian members, including: Acting Deputy TPS Chief, Myron Demkiw; Superintendent, Pauline Gray; Inspector, Kelly Skinner; Yvette Blackburn, Global Jamaica Diaspora Council (GJDC) – Canadian Representative; Jennifer Chambers, Executive Director of the Empowerment Council; Dave D’Oyen; Stephen Linton; Stephen McCammon, Legal Counsel, Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario; John O’Dell, President of the Guyana Ex-Police Association; and Knia Singh, Principal Lawyer, Ma’at Legal Services.
Under the leadership of co-Chairs Inspector Skinner and Singh, a sub-committee was formed — comprising Blackburn, Chambers, Linton, and McCammon — with a focus to deliver a Know Your Rights campaign.
“Know Your Rights provides clear, readily-available information to the public and informs people of their legal right to engage or disengage, when they encounter members of the TPS,” said Knia Singh J.D., Know Your Rights sub-committee Co-Chair.
“With the past experiences, surrounding carding, this video campaign represents a positive attempt to ensure the public and the police, share a legal understanding of what your rights are when interacting with police.”