Who is reforming policing?

It seems everybody is in on the act these days. The Province of Ontario is reviewing the Police Services Act. The City of Toronto keeps appointing committees to solve its budget problems with policing. And the cops are just digging in their heels against change.

But the question that has to be asked is, “Who is in charge?” The citizens of Toronto used to respect and like their police. The courts are befuddled by the cases of police malfeasance finally brought to them. A judge docked a Toronto police superintendent 30 days of holiday pay for abusing the civil rights of hundreds of citizens six years before. A court found a police officer guilty of attempted murder when he shot a confused young man with a pen knife repeatedly after he had already killed him.

And why are police officers paid over a $100,000 a year to direct traffic around construction sites? Nobody understands that.

But if you are waiting for wisdom from Queen’s Park in how we are running our police services, you can forget it. Police services boards are political fiefdoms for the party in power to pay political debts. Neither the provincial nor municipal politicians want to lose those payoff opportunities. And the public be damned.

You wonder sometimes about the spillover influence from America. Incidents of police brutality south of the border are played well by Canadian media. It is that old adage of news directors: If it bleeds, it leads.

Obviously many of those guns in the hands of young hoodlums in Toronto are being smuggled across the border. It is not ease of access to guns in Canada that is the first problem. The first problem is attitude. It is the collegial attitude of the police and their fellow officers protecting that long blue line. We still have had no accounting with former Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair for the incidents of the Summer of 2010. (He is busy as the Ambassador of Pot for the Trudeau government.)

What about the conservative attitude of the Ontario Government? They make the rules for polices services. The only problem with that is that we have to change the mindset of what policing is all about. ‘To Serve and Protect’ is not just a public relations slogan. It has to mean something. It has to be a creed.

It always impressed us when we were young that the Toronto police were always friendly and helpful. We liked those men and women. We supported them. We wish that was the case today.

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Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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