By TOM GODFREY
Some community members are crying foul and whispering “cover-up” as a policy on community contacts before the Toronto Police Services Board was delayed yet again.
Many residents are pointing their fingers at the Board saying their “new way of doing business looks exactly like the old”.
A number of groups, agencies and activists had expected a community contacts policy to be in place today, and not the bickering and posturing that seems to be taking place.
Outgoing Chief Bill Blair is dragging his feet on the carding and racial profiling issue that is of such importance to the community. He could have settled it a long time ago.
Many people I have spoken to, or who have sent e-mails, are questioning why former Ontario Chief Justice William Winkler was hired in such a rush at the last minute. After all, we were all told that negotiations were going well and a policy was about to be finalized.
Some insiders say Blair is leaving with a fight and is not willing to accommodate the anti-profiling policy as it is.
We have heard so much double talk by all levels of officialdom that the community is once against being short-changed and not properly served on this issue.
The hiring of Winkler shows that things are dire and both sides are still far apart.
Aside, what has Winkler, in all his wisdom, ever done for the community, many are asking.
The racial profiling and carding of Blacks, as first surfaced in the Toronto Star, has been a rallying call for most community members who realize that their sons too can be documented by the cops, or even criminalized, for venturing outside.
Many believe the ongoing power struggle between Blair and the Board is hurting many vulnerable youth in our communities who are not troublemakers or breaking our laws.
The Board will like to see the community contacts policy implemented under Blair’s leadership. But, it doesn’t look likely since he is only chief for about six more weeks.
Rather than moving ahead, we are still back to where we started with Blair and his disagreements with the Board that has one community leader asking “who is the boss”.
Blair has his last meeting with the Board in weeks and it looks like the urgent community contacts policy will be placed squarely on the desk of his successor.
The search for a community-friendly chief is down to a short list that will be circulated to the Board for their selection by next month.
No doubt, Chair Dr. Alok Mukherjee, Mayor John Tory and other board members are searching for someone who has sensitivity and respect for our community to implement the much-needed anti-carding policy.
It looks like Blair may want a new chief to make his own decision on how he wants the force to proceed and how he wants to lead.
We as the community, with all the hearings and community surveys, still don’t have anything firm to hold on to or believe in when it comes to community contacts.
Black youth are still being targeted for undue police checks every day. More than two years later and after a lot of discussion, very little has changed.
So we are back to square one; with maybe more impending hearings, this time trying to appease a new chief about the ongoing treatment of Black youth by some police officers.
This city would be a better place for all of us to live if only Blair would “do the right thing” and establish a community contacts policy before he rides into the sunset.
All Torontonians will be proud.