Hail FROM the chief

Chief Mark Saunders welcomes Ken Jeffers to the Toronto Police Services Board. Gerald V. Paul photo.
Chief Mark Saunders welcomes Ken Jeffers to the Toronto Police Services Board. Gerald V. Paul photo.

As Trinidad and Tobago’s Ken Jeffers took his seat on the Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB), many such boards are seeking explicit power to enforce new carding rules – clarity as to what the boards can do.
Jeffers, appointed to the board by the provincial government for a two-year term, told The Camera he appreciates the opportunity to serve and that Chief Mark Saunders was very engaging as they connected last Thursday at Jeffers’ first board meeting.
Carding is when officers stop, question and document citizens in non-criminal encounters. Saunders was lead author on a secret internal 2012 analysis of carding data that found no evidence to support “notions or activities of racially biased” policing.
The report, part of the review of how officers interact with citizens, was not made public and the civilian board that oversees police and chose Saunders as chief did not see it. However, the report eventually got the green light and is now available.
The province’s strategy is to ensure police can’t opt out of carding rules because of a lack of clarity over what police boards can and cannot demand.
Last month Ontario’s Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services unveiled draft regulations that set strict new limits on carding. The regulations, now under a 45-day public review, ban arbitrary and random stops and set limits on why and how police question and document members of the public.
Fred Kaustinen, executive director of the Ontario Association of Police Services Boards, said some Ontario police services, including Peel and Toronto, are “basically telling their employers, i.e their police boards that operations are none of their business.”
Kaustinen noted “Our police leaders haven’t resolved the carding issue for one simple reason: police boards don’t have the clear authority, training or support they need to do their job, which is directing and overseeing the police.”
He stressed that the Police Services Act “does not clearly spell out the board job and police culture interprets the board authority as “soft’.”
In September, Peel Police Chief Jennifer Evans refused to suspend carding, explicitly ignoring instruction from Peel’s board to stop the practice until further review.
In Toronto, former chief Bill Blair dragged his feet on the carding policy. Former board chair Dr. Alok Mukherjee said, “Well, we were telling him to do it but we had very little recourse when he said no.”
According to a survey by Logical Outcomes, a majority of officers in Toronto’s Jane-Finch area are ignoring the police board’s revised carding policy, contributing to a climate of mistrust and perceived abuse.