By TOM GODFREY
Some community leaders say they are not surprised by the controversial findings of a Toronto Police survey of residents of 31 Division that has outraged Chief Bill Blair and members of the police association.
“I am not a bit surprised by the outcome of the survey results,” said Kingsley Gilliam, of the Black Action Defense Committee. “I believe a survey of all police divisions in Toronto will provide the same results.”
The $75,000 Community Assessment of Police Practices (CAPP) survey was conducted last summer by non-profit group, LogicalOutcome. It was presented to the Toronto Police Services Board last week.
The survey found “widespread dissatisfaction with the way that police interact with members of the community”.
“The level of trust in the police is low and many participants expressed negative views regarding the police,” the survey said. “A large number of respondents believe that police regularly abuse their power.”
A team of students interviewed 404 people and found that 137 of them reported being stopped and documented, or “carded”, by police in the past. Some 62 of those said they were carded since June.
These findings suggest “widespread non-compliance” by police, according to Neil Price, the executive director of LogicalOutcome, who said there is a climate of mistrust between residents and officers.
“Roughly 40 per cent still feel that the relationship between police and the community is poor,” the report said. “The status quo with respect to policing in 31 Division is unacceptable.”
Blair quickly criticized the survey’s “lack of facts” and Board Chair Alok Mukherjee for calling the findings “extremely disturbing and problematic”. He accused Mukherjee of jumping to conclusions.
Gilliam said Blair’s attack of Mukherjee “is tantamount to insubordination”.
He accused the Chief of refusing to issue a direct order to frontline officers to obey a Board policy regarding the issuing of contact cards to those pulled over for questioning.
“I believe this is insubordination and the Chief should be called on it,” Gilliam told Share. “There is a feeling by some that they are beyond the law and are untouchable.”
Members of the community last year filed a $200 million class action lawsuit against Blair and the Board for the alleged systemic racial profiling and carding of Blacks, who are disproportionately stopped by police over other races for street checks.
Members of the community want officers to be disciplined for not adhering to the carding policy.
Lawyer Peter Rosenthal, who is involved in the lawsuit, said the policy is not being followed.
“It is apparent that many officers are not following either the spirit of or the letter of the policy on carding,” Rosenthal told Share. “Substantial discipline must be imposed on officers who contravene the policy.”
Members of the Jane Finch Action Against Poverty (JFAAP) said racial profiling of Black youths in their area has not gone away.
“Enough is enough,” the group said in a release. “Toronto Police and its 31 Division must put an end in their targeted policing, racist harassment of Black and other racialized youth.”
The group held a news conference this week to call for the removal of officers in charge of 31 Division and for a public apology to the community.
The Board was forced to revamp its street contact policy last April after complaints and protests from the community that the practice did not comply with human rights laws.
The police-funded survey found that more than half of those polled believed police in 31 Division abuse their power and more than one in three felt that police are dishonest and unfair in their practices.
It said more than 40 per cent of male youth reported being intimidated by police and a quarter of those polled said they would not report a crime to police.
The survey called for a ban on the carding of minors; a revision of carding categories; a purge of all pre-policy contact cards; a community engagement strategy and for “info clinics” for those who want to access their personal information from police databases.
The Board will meet on November 26 to discuss the survey.