By TOM GODFREY
A survey is being undertaken by Toronto Police to gauge the satisfaction of the North York community patrolled by 31 Division regarding the policing service they receive.
The survey is part of a Street Checks policy adopted last April by the Toronto Police Services Board following pressure by community members that they were being profiled for checks by officers.
Deadlines for proposals by community groups to conduct a $75,000 survey wrapped up last week. The Board had issued a request for proposals for groups familiar with the area to carry out the work.
Police said the pilot project will determine the level of satisfaction from residents served by 31 Division, which includes the Jane and Finch area.
The survey “will measure and determine the impact of the practices flowing from the public trust and satisfaction with policing”, the Board said on its website.
It said the northwestTorontodivision is one of the areas where officers of the Toronto Violence Strategy (TAVIS) have been working to keep the community safe.
Residents of the area have complained for years of being profiled by police who allegedly use heavy-handed tactics in targeting youth suspected of being involved in crime. But police said their presence is working and crime is down about 27 per cent in the area, with less gun crime, theft and robberies.
The Board said the survey will be conducted from June to August and measure the impact and make recommendations for changes or improvements. A report is expected in September.
Young people are to be paid to take part in the survey, the Board stressed.
“Engage them in the process of data collection, analysis and reflection to generate conclusions with them,” the proposal said, adding that officers must get to know the neighbourhoods they serve and be able to enter into conversations with residents to provide proper service.
“They (officers) must be able to gather and retain legitimate information,” the Board said. “They must do so and be trained and supervised to do so within a clear framework in accordance with procedures.”
Deputy Toronto Police Chief Peter Sloly said the survey is a Board initiative.
“I cannot comment on it except to say that we support it in principle and will hopefully be better informed as a result of it,” Sloly told Share.
Community activists who are challenging the alleged racial profiling of Toronto Police in a $200 million class action lawsuit, claim the survey is being conducted too quickly.
“It will be very difficult for a well-done survey to be designed and accomplished in the short time frame that is available,” said lawyer Peter Rosenthal.
Rosenthal said it is too early to determine if the new anti-carding policy will curb abuses in the community.
He said a researcher hired by the Board can be seen by the public as biased or compromised and that they should be hired by an independent agency, such as the Ombudsman.
Lawyer Munyonzwe Hamalengwa called the survey a “stalling tactic” by the Board that has the power to implement the results of previous studies.
Under the new anti-carding rules,Torontoofficers will need a reason relating to an actual occurrence or a series of occurrences before stopping someone on the street.
And officers will have to provide a receipt for each interaction with their name and badge number, as well as the reason for contact. There is also an appeal mechanism.