Policing Reform Implemenation
(Illustration: Detail from the Board's July 2020 Town Hall Illustrated Summary, Page 10)
On this page:
1. The Toronto Police Services Board Policing Reforms
At its meeting of August 18, 2020, the Toronto Police Services Board approved 81 recommendations for police reform that were contained in a report by Chair Jim Hart, titled “Police Reform in Toronto: Systemic Racism, Alternative Community Safety and Crisis Response Models and Building New Confidence in Public Safety.” These recommendations established a roadmap for comprehensive policing reform in Toronto, and include building new community safety response models, various initiatives to address systemic racism and concrete steps to improve trust with our communities.
These recommendations were motivated by thousands of messages that the Board received from members of the public on police reform, accountability, and community safety priorities, as well as decisions approved by the Toronto City Council in June 2020. The recommendations were developed after robust public engagement that occurred over the months of June, July and into August 2020.
2. The Policing Reform Implementation Dashboard
Accountability for reform is a cornerstone of the Board’s and Service’s approach to the work ahead. As the work of reform continues, the people of Toronto should be able to track progress in a transparent and accessible manner. To this end, an interactive dashboard has been developed and will be updated regularly. The dashboard describes the Board’s and Service’s work plan for the implementation of each of these critical initiatives, tracks our progress, and provides links to relevant public reports, as soon as they are available. This dashboard serves as the primary and most efficient method to report to the public on developments in the implementation of these reforms.
Members of the public are invited to contact the Board with any comments or suggestions with regard to the dashboard.
These significant reforms are being carried out, in part, in collaboration with the City of Toronto. To review steps taken by the City to support and enhance community safety, fight systemic racism, and improve mental health crisis response in Toronto, please refer to the City’s webpage on Policing Reform.
3. Communications from the Board to Federal, Provincial and Municipal Authorities Pertaining to Policing Reform
As approved by the Board at its August 2020 meeting, the Chair has sent a number of letters on behalf of the Board to federal, provincial and municipal governments to advocate for necessary changes in order to ensure public safety and improve police accountability:
- Letter of January 20, 2021, to the Federal Ministry of Health, the Provincial Ministry of Health, and the City of Toronto, expressing the Board's request for additional, sustained investment for community-based mental health and addictions services in Toronto (recommendation 11)
- Letter of September 22, 2020, to the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, supporting the City of Toronto's request for legislative amendment to expand the City of Toronto's Auditor General's jurisdiction to include auditing the Toronto Police Service (recommendation 27)
- Letter of September 22, 2020, to the Solicitor General of Ontario, supporting the City of Toronto's request for legislative amendments concerning suspension without pay and revocation of a police officer's appointment (recommendation 43)
- Letter of January 5, 2021, to the Solicitor General of Ontario, requesting a review of the Province's Use of Force Model (recommendation 48)
4. Beyond the August 2020 Report
The Board and the Service continue to identify needs and opportunities for change and improvement. We continue to engage with stakeholders, communities and potential partners to develop new ways to provide policing services in Toronto that are responsive to the needs of Torontonians. Below are just some of the steps we have already taken to improve the Service:
Body-Worn Camera Governance and Implementation
At its November meeting, the Board approved its Body-Worn Cameras Policy. This is the first Policy of its kind in Canada, and aims to provide guidance for an optimally balanced, evidence-based governance structure for BWCs that ensures the recording of incidents where recordings would be of value, while minimizing any unintended consequences related to privacy. The approach taken by the proposed BWC Policy was developed based on a review of both internal and external evidence, and through a broad and in-depth consultation with stakeholders and members of the public.
The Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (IPC), who was a key stakeholder throughout the development process, has commended the approach taken by the Board and the Toronto Police Service in developing the Policy and the Service's Procedure on Body-Worn Camera Use, noting in her letter of January 15, 2021, that "Based on the constructive engagement my office has had working with the Board and the Service throughout this consultation period, and the iterative dialogue from which we have gained practical insights into the operational use of BWCs, I have decided to draw from this positive experience to develop general BWC guidance for police services across Ontario. This provincial guidance will draw heavily on the advice we provided to the Toronto’s BWC governance framework, as well as what we learned from the perspective of the Service, the Board, and other key stakeholders who also contributed meaningfully to this process, including the Ontario Human Rights Commission." The Board and the Service are committed to continue engaging with the IPC as deployment continues and more data because available on the effectiveness of body-worn cameras.
Strip Search Reform
As a result of motions raised on November 21st, 2019 and issues identified in the Office of the Independent Police Review Director's (OIPRD) report “Breaking the Golden Rule” on strip searches, the Service undertook a review, and established changes to its procedures to reduce the number of strip searches carried out, and ensure all strip searches are justified and necessary. Changes included updating the names and definitions of searches in the Service's procedures; establishing a staged approach to searching; developing a new Booking and Search template, which will enable the Service to capture and report on more data; ensuring that individuals shall be afforded the right to speak to counsel prior to a strip search; and further updates to the Service Governance framework of strip searches.
In a January 19, 2021 letter to the Ministry of the Solicitor General, the OIPRD highlighted the Toronto Police Service's new procedures on strip searches, and recommended that "police services review their current strip search procedures and compare them to the new procedures recently developed by the Toronto Police Service in response to our recommendations."