By TOM GODFREY
Many people in our community expected more from Chief Bill Blair and are disappointed that he was unable to decree an anti-carding policy for Toronto Police officers before leaving next month.
Many people like the Chief and others cannot wait for him to be gone due to his lack of action on enacting a Community Contacts Policy.
Blair, and I do know him, is a civic, well-meaning guy who has a good heart. He is a Scarborough boy who cares for this city. But, in this case he has a mandate and is standing up for his 5,500 officers.
He is facing stiff opposition to the policy from the Toronto Police Association.
Many city residents can see the gamesmanship being played out between the Chief and his masters, the Toronto Police Services Board.
It comes down to the Board ordering Blair to implement a long-awaited Community Contacts Policy that is a huge concern for members of the Black community, who also pay taxes and the rising cost of policing.
We must remember that about $1 billion of our taxes go to policing, and the force must abide by rules to protect the public, which means all of us.
Blair though is blatantly dragging his feet on installing this policy. Two meetings to which it was to be discussed, were postponed and Chief Justice Warren Winkler was brought in to help mediate and bring the parties together.
Community members are asking why Winkler is required and what is there to mediate considering Blair was given an order by the Board.
It appears as if Blair in refusing to deal with the racial profiling and carding issue and is clearly leaving it for his successor to implement.
Some say the Chief does not want to be the one to introduce a policy that is unpopular in police circles.
A new Chief, already undergoing a sharp learning curve, will now have to deal with the controversial policy, without the benefit of meeting face-to-face with community residents or leaders.
Once again, it appears as if the community and our City are being played and manipulated by a few people; who could have easily resolved the gridlock a long time ago.
Many community members have called for Blair to be charged for insubordination for not following a Board directive. Others want him to be sent packing immediately.
Every day that Blair and the Board dance around the issue means more young people from our at-risk communities are being allegedly stopped, questioned and have their information documented for possible criminal charges later.
Advocates say the alleged profiling is still being conducted by police under other guises to pull over and question Black youth.
There is no doubt that Blair and the Board have dropped the ball on this. The anti-carding policy was almost law. Now, some are asking if it may take more study or community consultations under a new Chief to get the policy back on track.
The Black community has held marches on the streets of Toronto, circulated petitions and even filed a $200 million class-action lawsuit against Toronto Police to try and halt the dehumanizing practice against our youth.
Many younger people in the community view the actions by the Chief as nothing more than grandstanding and likened his actions to police in Ferguson, Miss., and the treatment of Blacks there.
Even Mayor John Tory, who sits on the Board and is vocal on most things, has been noticeably silent on the issue with which he is all too familiar having heard many stories during the mayoral campaign.
Many of us believe that the community is once again being held for ransom in a political police struggle and we want cooler heads to prevail.