Community guiding top cop search

By Gerald V. Paul

Dr. Alok Mukherjee Toronto Sun photo
Dr. Alok Mukherjee
Toronto Sun photo

“The consultations ended on Monday. We are very pleased with the results with over 500 people from the diverse communities giving their input,” Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB) Chair Dr. Alok Mukherjee told The Camera yesterday.

“Selecting a new chief is a serious matter and one that will impact the lives of our membership and community in a very direct way,” Mukherjee said.

Mukherjee said the board wants to make sure they select the right leader who will work with the board, the city and the community to ensure that Toronto Police Service continues to enjoy public trust and support through innovation and transformation.

The consultation focused specifically on the competencies the community considers essential in the new chief. Lead consultant Maureen Brown conducted the meetings and the final report will be submitted to the board no later than Nov. 13.

Mukherjee wanted to hear from all the city’s diverse communities. However, while the turnout in some areas was poorly attended, the Urban Alliance on Race Relations (UARR) said “community consultations on the competencies are necessary in selecting the chief of the Toronto Police Service.”

The UARR noted the consultation was timely. They attended the forums and shared their perspectives, while hearing the areas of need that must be bridged through the establishment of ‘look fors’ that enable the new chief to set directions in policing that satisfy the unmet needs of Toronto diverse communities.

Meanwhile, a survey that will be presented to the TBSB on Thursday revealed there is still a climate of mistrust between the Black community and the police. Of 400 individuals surveyed, 300 expressed mistrust.

According to Neil Price, executive director of Logical Outcomes, “The new policy is intended to ensure that the rights of members of the public are protected during these encounters with police in the Jane and Finch area.”

He noted that the findings of the report show the current community contacts policy has effectively been ignored by police officers on the ground.

However, Mark Pugash, unit commander of Metro Police corporate communications, told The Camera, “We will challenge the survey as reported.”

In the PACER Report (Police Community Engagement Review), professional standards recommendation #6 advocates that “the professional standards unit develop new thresholds specifically designed and implemented with respect to bias and racial profiling and create a new dimension with respect to an early detection and intervention alert system to support officers working in high-risk assignments.”

Price stressed, “It’s clear that despite several decades, we’re still dealing with the fundamental issue of what the community feels is systematic mistreatment.”

Gerald V. Paul
Gerald V. Paul