Communities need to get more involved in decision making – Jeffers

Kenneth Jeffers

Trinidad-born Kenneth Jeffers, the lone Black member of the Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB)  and longtime community pro-activist, has been re-appointed to the Board for another term.

Jeffers who was first appointed to the TPSB in 2015,  says he is looking forward to his re-appointment “with great interest.”

” I am now in a position where I believe that I have a better understanding of the past and current culture of police and policing,” he told the  Caribbean Camera.

Noting, however, that his  role on the Board is not “full time,” Jeffers said he  is hoping that all communities take the opportunity and the responsibility to speak to all members of the Board and prepare adequately and strategically for Board meetings.”

He was emphatic that communities need to do more homework to be involved in the process of decision making that directly will have impact on their lives and neighbourhoods.

Jeffers also said that leaders in the various communities, particularly in the African Canadian community, “need to monitor and be more vigilant on the issues and direction that the Board is pursuing.”

Referring to the recent Transformation Task Force (TTF), he said he was disappointed with “the relatively small numbers” who came to the consultations to transform and not just change” methods and methodologies of policing.”

He noted that there while there is a provision for the community to officially monitor and evaluate community/police  engagement every three months,” there has not been action or reaction to this significant outcome by the TTF.”

” I believe that we should have more activists than ‘reactivists’ to decisions already made,” he said.

As  he explained,  “it is always tougher to change decisions that are already made when decision makers fight to prove that they were not wrong. ”

Referring to issues specifically affecting the Black community, he said: “I am deeply concerned and troubled when we rightfully speak about issues like carding but do not have the resources, including well qualified and trained staff, in the African Canadian community, to provide support for persons who need help.”

However, Jeffers said he was optimistic about ” the unprecedented move by the Province of Ontario to provide developmental funding specifically geared towards African Canadian young people.

“I also look forward to the police partnering with the recipients of funding as we do now with professionals in the mental health field. ”  He noted, however, that “the community cannot be expected to do all of this with volunteers only.

” But we can play an advocate role in helping effective groups to receive resources.”

Jeffers said he also looks forward to a working relationship with the unprecedented number of Youth Outreach Workers in both the City and Province. ”

” We also have to look at new priorities in reallocating existing budgets that continue to exist without critical evaluation on effectiveness,” he pointed out.