Making Progress Together on Police Reform by the Toronto Police Services Board and the Toronto Police Service: a Six-Month Update
The Toronto Police Services Board and the Toronto Police Service continue to move forward together, in collaboration with stakeholders and the community, in implementing comprehensive police reform, six months after the bold and progressive agenda was first approved in August 2020.
The Board’s 81 recommendations put into place a roadmap for comprehensive policing reform, and include building new community safety response models, initiatives to address systemic racism and concrete steps to strengthening trust with our communities. They followed robust public engagement that occurred over the months of June, July and into August 2020, following thousands of messages that the Board received from members of the public on police reform, accountability, and community safety priorities.
The workplan is multi-faceted and wide-ranging, and includes recommendations with short, medium and long-term implementation timelines, focused on the ever-important objective of building and strengthening trust with members of all of Toronto’s communities.
"The Six-Month Update shows that we are continuing to move forward in implementing comprehensive police reform. I support this ongoing work and meaningful change which is happening at the Toronto Police Services Board and at the Toronto Police Service," said Mayor John Tory. "I want to thank everyone involved in this process including the public. This process will ensure greater police accountability, access to data and information transparency, alternative, effective approaches to persons in crisis, improved service delivery and strengthened community trust. I look forward to future updates which I'm confident will show this reform is continuing."
As Chair Jim Hart said, “working with the Service, the Board has embarked on an important and timely workplan to integrate significant reforms into our work, as we reimagine the way we define community safety and how we can best deliver policing services in Toronto. The significant issues we are in the process of addressing are the product of a much larger, and much broader conversation – across populations and around the world –and the Board recognizes that this is only the beginning of a crucial dialogue that the Board has to maintain in order to achieve real and meaningful change.”
“As Chief, I am committed to accelerating the implementation of all 81 recommendations because moving forward with this reform will help the Toronto Police Service be more responsive to the needs of the city’s diverse communities,” said Chief of Police James Ramer. “I am proud of the efforts we have made and I am pleased that we are making this progress with the help of our community partners, the Police Services Board, and all levels of government, especially City Council.”
To support the Service’s efforts with implementation and to provide advice and accountability, Chief Ramer has resurrected the Police and Community Engagement Review (PACER) Committee, now known as PACER 2.0. The ongoing efforts of this committee has already resulted in the successful implementation of Recommendation #70, a Know Your Rights video campaign, designed to inform and educate members of the public about their rights during various types of engagements with police officers.
Other notable accomplishments to date include the following:
Developing different ways to expand the Service’s ability to respond to mental health calls for service including the introduction of Divisional Crisis Support officers who provide 24-hour support to the frontline and allow for Mobile Crisis Intervention Teams (MCIT) to be first-on-scene.
Signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the City of Toronto Auditor General for the Auditor General to develop and carry out a work plan of independent audits of the Service on behalf of the Board. The Board has also communicated with the provincial government to request that the City of Toronto Act be amended to expand the Auditor General’s legislated authority to include the Toronto Police Service.
Supporting the City of Toronto to develop recommendations for a Community Crisis Support Service Pilot program which would allow for non-police-led response for non-emergency, non-violent calls, including those involving persons in crisis and for wellness checks.
Publishing a line-by-line budget for both 2020 and 2021, and providing increased transparency on spending by the Service in previous years. This and other datasets were made available to the public in an accessible format.
Ensuring transparency through the creation of an implementation dashboard that provides the public with up-to-date information on progress made in implementing the Board’s reform agenda.
In addition to implementing the 81 recommendations, the Board and Service continue to identify opportunities to take action to improve police accountability and the service provided to members of the public. Examples of these accomplishments to date include:
The introduction of Body-Worn Cameras (BWCs), the roll-out for which is continuing across the Service, with a robust governance framework put into place. The province’s Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC) recently wrote a letter in which she comments favourably on the Board’s and Service’s constructive engagement with the IPC, and notes that she has “decided to draw from this positive experience to develop general BWC guidance for police services across Ontario.”
Reforming the Service’s Strip Search procedures to ensure all strip searches are justified and monitored appropriately.
Since the changes have been made, the number of strip searches has dropped from a weekly high of 273 earlier this year, to 35-40 in recent weeks.
The province’s Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIRPD) recently wrote a letter to the province in which he recommended that all police services in Ontario refer to the new TPS procedure as a “best in class” model.
As we look forward to continuing implementation of our police reform initiatives, we remain committed to our essential and ongoing partnerships, and meaningful collaboration and consultation with the Service, our stakeholders, and members of all of Toronto’s many communities, emphasizing transparency and accountability in all we do.
The Toronto Police Services Board is the civilian body responsible for governing the Toronto Police Service. The Board is responsible for ensuring the provision of adequate and effective police services in the City of Toronto, setting priorities and objectives for the Toronto Police Service, approving the annual police budget and selecting the Chief of Police.