By ARNOLD A. AUGUSTE
A special meeting of the Toronto Police Services Board is being held on Monday, March 2 at police headquarters to review draft procedures from Chief Bill Blair with regard to police contact with citizens.
In a policy paper approved almost a year ago, Blair, as chief, was directed by the Board to establish the procedures to improve police-community interactions.
There are those who question why it has taken the chief so long to establish these procedures and the hope is that they will be ready at the March 2 meeting.
The Board’s action was in response to the community’s angst over the issue of carding where young Black men were being overwhelmingly stopped by police, questioned and the interaction recorded even when no charges were laid or there was no obvious cause for the interactions in the first place.
The Board, which provides civilian oversight of the police, states that “policing must be carried out in a manner that fully respects and implements obligations under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Ontario Human Rights Code.
“It is believed, further, that practices consistent with this understanding are essential to promote legitimacy of policing as well as public trust and confidence in it.”
According to the policy the Board approved last May, some of the objectives are to “improve police-community interactions and eliminate the collection, retention, use and disclosure of irrelevant personal information; identify the circumstances in which it is appropriate to initiate a Contact or create a Community Safety Note (a record of the Contact); eliminate discrimination from Contacts; improve community confidence in the Service’s ability to provide non-biased policing and to ensure the provision of effective training on how to conduct Contacts in a way that promotes community trust.
The Board has directed the Chief to establish procedures which will govern the actions of officers during police-civilian Contacts to among other things, “minimize the potential negative effects of Contacts on the community; reflect the goal of police legitimacy by ensuring Contacts are conducted in the spirit of trust building with the community and are directed toward effective policing; ensure compliance with the Charter generally and, in particular, the protection against arbitrary detention and the right to equal treatment under the law…and freedom from discrimination based on race, place of origin, age, colour, ethnic origin, gender identity or gender expression…”
Members of the community are encouraged to attend the March 2 meeting at 12:30 p.m. in the 2nd floor auditorium at police headquarters, 40 College Street.