City council votes to have ombudsman oversee Toronto police to enhance accountability .

Susan E Opler

Toronto council voted unanimously on  Thursday to give the city’s ombudsman the authority to review police procedures and programs.

In a release, Ombudsman Toronto called the move the “biggest change in police oversight in Toronto’s recent history.”

“This is a groundbreaking step in independent, local police accountability on behalf of the people of Toronto,” said Ombudsman Susan Opler.

“It comes at a critically-important time, when public trust in police and policing institutions is low and calls for policing reform echo nationwide.”

Ombudsman Toronto will begin its oversight role after the negotiation of a new memorandum of understanding with the Toronto Police Services Board and the force.

The independent office will make recommendations, such as practical solutions to improve fairness and accountability of the Toronto Police Service (TPS), and will follow up to make sure they are implemented, the release reads.

Ombudsman Toronto says it has already identified several areas that could benefit from its review, such as criminal records checks, the vulnerable persons registry, and programs designed to reach out to at-risk and marginalized communities.

The office says it will make the results of its investigations public to promote transparency and maintain public trust.

To avoid duplicating the work of existing oversight bodies, the release says, “Ombudsman Toronto will not investigate individual complaints about the Toronto Police Service (TPS), or how the TPS handles complaints.”

It will also not review the conduct of individual officers and will focus instead on the systemic impacts of TPS procedures and programs to ensure they are fair to the people of Toronto, Opler said.

The office will be consulting with the public, including members of Black and Indigenous communities, to better understand their needs and concerns.