Carding……STILL?

What do we have to do to end this?

Toronto’s Globe and Mail published “Boxer takes another shot at banning street checks” in its April 13 edition. Kirk Johnson, a 1990s Olympic boxer, was pulled over in 1998 by a white Halifax police officer and his Ford Mustang was impounded as a result.

Why? He was black, and Nova Scotia’s Human Rights Commission later agreed. Mr. Johnson had filed a human rights complaint, and after five years, the decision exposed racial bias in the Halifax-area police and mandated change.

“The rights commission’s order that police collect street check data and analyze it for racial bias fell by the wayside for more than a dozen years. Although police collected the data, no analysis was done until media inquired about it in 2016,” the Globe reported.

An independent academic report released last month looked at police data for a 12-year span from 2006 to 2017 showing the equivalent of two street checks for every black person living in the Halifax area compared to only one street check for every three white people. The report found that blacks in Halifax are still stopped five to six times more than whites.

Kirk Johnson reluctantly jumped back into the controversy, feeling as if he’d been slapped in the face. “To realize you do this work to help the situation and the situation isn’t getting better…..the bottom line is racism is a bad disease. It’s destroying a lot or people, white and black. In order for us to live in harmony, that type of stuff has got to go.”

We reminded the Halifax police chief in an April 16 note that street checks……’carding’……is code for police state.

A few days after the press ran the results of the analysis of police data, Nova Scotia’s justice minister ordered a ‘moratorium’ on street checks of pedestrians.

Over and over and over we are challenged and dared. People….each of us, all of us….must stand up, speak up, and act up…. or the bullies will have their way.

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As we said….mercenaries!

There have been three additional entries to the policing file after the ‘farewell and good luck’ published last April 1st. This is like the squeaky wheel oil won’t fix.

“Toronto police – mercenaries?” from last April highlighted a years-long concern. Most Toronto police officers do not live in the city. The posting was prompted by an earlier Toronto Star article, writer Betsy Powell’s “Many new cops don’t live in Toronto,” and while police brass claimed performance wasn’t impacted by where someone slept, and the police union underscored how expensive it was to live in the city, a University of Toronto criminologist argued the important connection between where a police officer lived and how a police officer did their job.

Freelance writer Andray Domise revisited this question with an op-ed in the Monday, January 21 Globe and Mail, “The problem with parachute policing.” To quote from this opinion, “When neighbourhood residents know their officers as invested stakeholders in the community’s fortunes, the relationship generally changes for the better.” And, “…as it stands now, the perception that officers have no stake in the community once they’ve stowed their badges and guns can only further erode resident trust of police, given the history of random street checks, brutal force applied to citizens who have committed no crime, and failure to report incidents to the civilian oversight agency.”

Last year, Peter Sloly, a former Toronto deputy chief, estimated that 80 to 85 per cent of Toronto’s cops didn’t live in the city. Toronto has a population of about three million, and a median household income of $75,270 in 2017. Police household incomes are higher than for most families in Toronto, and while we shouldn’t complain about what we pay our cops, we can expect them to be better connected to the communities they patrol, and the people who pay their bills.

Yes, housing and home ownership in Toronto is a challenge, but all the same, there are pluses and minuses in choosing to live an hour outside the city. While we must give officers some leeway in finding a home, we must also recognize the benefits for Toronto by having our police as neighbours.

Next time, back to our prison industry.

What, no ‘carding’ comment?

OKAY, BUT ONLY A FEW WORDS.

JUSTICE MICHAEL TULLOCH RELEASES HIS 300-PLUS PAGE REVIEW OF CARDING AND STREET CHECKS IN ONTARIO.

NOW WHAT?

Commissioned by the previous Ontario Liberal government, it’s now up to the current Progressive Conservative administration at Queen’s Park to do something with it. Tulloch’s extensive report is one of four critical perspectives into policing released during the last few weeks. After an initial flurry of attention, these voluminous, expensive, but usually worthwhile exercises frequently end up tucked away on a dusty shelf and forgotten.

Tulloch, an Ontario Court of Appeal justice, and his team consulted widely and accepted numerous written submissions, including representations from 34 police services in the province. Culling a bottom line from all those pages, random street checks….carding….have no investigative value, although done right and for the right reasons, targeted street checks are worthwhile. In spite of painstaking efforts in the report to flesh out the difference, considerable subjectivity remains. That’s the pitfall.

Sylvia Jones, the provincial minister responsible for policing today, said “new police legislation will reflect a simple principle: racism and discrimination have no place in policing. Justice Tulloch’s report will inform our work as we fix Ontario’s policing legislation.” We’ll see.

No matter what this government does with the information now in its hands, no matter what any government does, one overriding principle is paramount:-

We must have some understanding of the law and our rights within it. We must stand up for those rights, speak up for those rights, act up for those rights. We must outlaw infringements on those rights. Otherwise, we get the boot.

Just as a reminder…..”Carding is code for police state”

Now, let’s get back to Canada’s prison industry.….next time we dump a bad law.

Updating ‘alternative facts’…….

Updating ‘alternative facts’…… 

…….policing in the age of video

………prison postings return next week.

From a February 5th posting last year:-

“Waseem Khan was in downtown Toronto with his wife on the last Tuesday morning in January, taking his daughter to daycare. He saw one in a group of police officers pull a man from the back seat of a cruiser, put him face down on the ground, and then kick the man in the head. Khan stopped after witnessing that, took out his phone, and began recording from about 20 feet away.
The video shows an officer stomping on the man’s legs, telling him to “stop resisting”, even though the man was motionless and may have been unconscious. Two officers approached Khan, telling him to stop recording, threatening to take his phone as evidence (which they cannot do), and suggesting the man under police control might spit at him and transmit AIDS (which is not true). Khan stopped recording shortly after, but filed a complaint, calling police behavior ‘disgusting’.”

Khan’s complaint to the Office of Independent Police Review Director was investigated and charges of discreditable conduct and use of excessive force were laid against Sgt. Eduardo Miranda.

At a tribunal hearing last week, Mr. Khan received an apology from the sergeant. Both charges were withdrawn following mediation facilitated by the OIPRD, and a settlement which does have any financial component is confidential. Both Waseem Khan and his lawyer believe the apology is sincere. Toronto Police said they were also reviewing its use-of-force protocols and intended to address misinformation about the transmission of the AIDS virus.

After the incident last year, police spokespeople had suggested that the video did not tell the whole story, and ‘alternative facts’ (although that terminology was not used) played a role in what was recorded by Mr. Khan’s phone.

We raise two points:
The police knew they were being recorded in January of 2017, yet events unfolded as filmed. What doesn’t get recorded when a camera isn’t around?
The video didn’t tell the whole story police say. That’s correct. But we asked a question to conclude that posting back on February 5, 2017….and the tribunal didn’t answer it.

“…under what circumstance is it okay for a police officer to kick a prone man in the head?”

POLICING – compelled to interject……..

Only three and a half months after “The POLICING file – Farewell & Good Luck?” on April 1st, the heat from recent events demands comment:-

NEPTUNE FOUR: In November of 2011, four black teenagers walking to an early evening program in their apartment complex, and armed with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms….and an attitude of entitlement to its protections, are confronted by two Toronto Police TAVIS (anti-violence) officers armed with protective vests, revolvers…..and their own attitude of empowerment. What ensued has been heavily covered in the media.
Now, at a June 19 police disciplinary tribunal hearing this year, Constable Scharnil Pais, one of the two officers accused of unlawful arrest that night so long ago, claims he was “scared” during the confrontation. His partner, Constable Adam Lourenco, did not testify.
“Scared” of what? “Scared” he’d get caught?
This is simply standard operating practice to vilify police victims.

SAMMY YATIM MURDER: Constable James Forcillo’s lawyers are seeking leave to appeal his conviction to the Supreme Court of Canada on a technicality used by the Crown to gain an attempted murder conviction. Forcillo is currently in custody, serving his sentence. The application announced on July 10 is a long-shot but then, the police have a big purse….your deep pockets.
James Forcello should have been convicted of second-degree murder.

THE DEATH OF ORLANDO BROWN: A 32 year-old black man, Barrie resident Orlando Brown, was arrested early in the afternoon on June 22, and died in hospital later that day. There was an active non-violent domestic dispute warrant for his arrest, and he was arranging bail before turning himself into police. A paralegal who was to represent him viewed a passerby’s video of the arrest. He’s convinced “excessive and reckless violence was utilized.”
A cousin told Brown to surrender quickly, telling him, “The last thing I want to happen to you is that you walk in the streets and police kill you.”
The SIU is investigating. The family want to see the video of the police booking Mr. Brown.
A July 9 letter went to the Barrie police chief:-

Kimberley Greenwood, Chief,
Barrie Police Service,
Barrie, ON L4M 6K9

Re: The death of Orlando Brown

Dear Chief Greenwood:

No doubt you have men and women on your force who are proactively engaging the people of Barrie to build positive working relationships.

And then, as everywhere in policing, there are the ‘cowboys’, officers who don’t get that Orlando Brown’s tax dollars contributed to the cost of their training, paid for the uniforms they wear, and supplied the weapons used to kill him.

The SIU investigation cannot change the most compelling outcome of this event. This man did not have to die on June 22.

ARE WE STILL TALKING ABOUT ‘CARDING’?:- Believe it or not, Jennifer Evans is still the chief of the Peel Regional Police. The June 29th Globe and Mail published “Police chief slams crackdown on carding”, her rant on the pressure to end ‘street checks’ by police services in Western Canada.
This definitely needed attention, and a July 6 letter followed:-

Jennifer Evans, Chief, Peel Regional Police,
Mississauga, ON L5N 8M5

Re: Police chief slams crackdown on carding, Globe and Mail, Friday, June 29

Chief Evans:

“….because of abuse by the police.”

That’s Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s response during a press scrum outside the House of Commons in 1972 when asked why his government gutted the Criminal Code’s vagrancy law. Of the three sections in the legislation, three of the five subsections in section 1 were repealed, as was section 3. One tends to remember when the first minister of the Crown chose the accusatory language Mr. Trudeau knew would be widely reported.

Canada’s police services have creatively developed resources to circumvent the intent of those changes ever since.

Carding is one of the more odious.

If street checks are a warranted important investigative tool, why not push the envelope. Why not press for ultimate control, incarcerating every person, subject to release upon a proof satisfying your officers there’s no threat to good order.

Extreme, you say? How much less so is carding?

Let’s just call if for what it is.

Carding is code for police state.

Police chiefs in Edmonton and Vancouver were copied, along with Ontario’s premier, the mayors of Toronto and Missisauga, and the Toronto Police director of communications.

Enough. Now, let’s get back to the government sanctioned abuse in our federal prison system.

The POLICING file – Farewell & Good Luck?

Police, policing, police culture, police budgets get lots of media coverage. Criticism of police, policing, police culture and police budgets get lots of attention. Support for police, policing, police culture and the police budget is front and centre, too.

One deficit is news of the outcomes of the many legal actions in Canada against police. Oddly, we almost never see a suit go to open court; settlements are the usual resolution, and non-disclosure clauses are standard. Most often, we do not even know settlements have been reached. Intentional suppression? And get this, these are our tax dollars at play, and we’re not entitled to an accounting.

There are occasional disclosures of the millions paid over periods of years by our governments to satisfy these suits. But, it takes the persistence of journalists and their employers to source this information, and a willingness to risk the displeasure of powerful offices.

What is most striking is how little impact these legal actions have. Yes, it seems Toronto police officers must now be taking public relations courses, but to what end? And yes, we believe there are people in public service dedicated to supporting best practices. Nonetheless, police culture must be entrenched in the status quo and beyond any easy redemption.

We contest turnoverarocktoday’s simplistic labeling as anti-police, but with so many voices in the arena already, we also believe our resources are better directed elsewhere. Our prison industry is so heavily shrouded against the public eye as to invite suspicion of wide-spread malpractice, for instance. More attention is warranted there.

John Sewell’s Toronto Police Accountability Coalition, journalist/activist Desmond Cole and his supporters in this city, and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association cover policing extensively. The African Canadian Legal Clinic continues to operate in spite of funding setbacks, and the Ontario Human Rights Commission has just called a public interest inquiry into racial profiling by Toronto Police. There are many others.

We’ll leave this work to them, but will keep watch, update files, and post a ‘policing’ comment when compelled. As with anything, anywhere, and at any time, the biggest impediment to change is the missing voices of the masses.

Let’s move on.

Police Games III – Marci Ien

Marci Ien is a multiple award winning Canadian broadcast journalist, currently cohosting CTV’s daytime panel talk show, The Social. The Globe and Mail published her op-ed piece, “Driving while black – in Canada”, on February 26.

In it, she wrote of her third stop in eight months by police while driving. She had dropped her daughter off at her sister’s house for a sleepover on a quiet Sunday evening in mid-February. The streets were unusually empty, but as she pulled into the driveway of her home of the last 13 years, a police cruiser came up behind her with its lights flashing.

She was ordered back into her car when she tried to speak to the officer, and was ordered to close the car door again when she stepped out as he approached. Apparently, she had rolled through a stop sign at her daughter’s school a half kilometre away. The officer asked if she lived in her home even after seeing the address on her driver’s licence and then took her i.d, license, registration, and ownership back to the cruiser for a few moments. He returned to say she was getting off with a warning. Throughout the exchange, she described his tone as alarming. She asked to be ticketed, told the officer of her past experiences with the police and how she did not feel respected, served for protected. “He looked at me, bid me good night and walked away,” she wrote.

We sent her a letter of encouragement:-

February 28, 2018

Marci Ien, The Social,
CTV,
P.O. Box 9, Station ‘O’,
Toronto, ON M4A 2M9

Re: “Driving while black – in Canada”
        Globe and Mail, Monday, February 26, 2018

Dear Ms Ien:

Thank you for taking the time and making the effort to put this on paper. It’s important for people who have a voice to remind us of conditions that regrettably still exist in this country.

You’re not the first person with a high public profile to experience overt racism from our police officers. You’re not the first person with a high public profile to go public with what happened to you, and how it made you feel. But, none of that has seemed to impact for positive change. And, we have a black chief of police. Or, is this because we have a black chief of police?

I do understand your anxiety at the time; still, a public servant trespassed on your property without cause. It’s important to remember two things, at least from the perspective of a white senior citizen like me. First, police college 101 teaches recruits to “get on top”, “stay on top”, be in control. Ergo, be firm in response. You’re really the person in charge. Second, when that police officer got out bed that morning and dressed, your tax dollars paid for his underwear.

Finally, what’s the worst that can happen? Toronto pays for a South Pacific cruise for you and your family.

Keep the conversation going.

Charles H. Klassen

cc Mark Saunders, Chief of Police, Toronto Police Service

The police were quick to react to the article, rejecting her claims of racism. Two senior officers tweeted a justification for the stop, and, along with the chief, claimed the videotape of the incident did not provide the officer with enough light to distinguish the race of the driver. The head of the police union tweeted a reference to a 2005 interview in which Ms Ien showed a cavalier attitude toward the rules of the road.

One important and overriding question which Ms Ien asks is why she wasn’t stopped when the traffic violation occurred, rather than in her driveway a half kilometre later. The question is ignored, but we can be sure the officer in the cruiser was running her plate and knew who she was and where she lived by the time he pulled into her driveway. Why then his questioning?

Take note too that police have been dismissive of video footage in the past as irrelevant, incomplete and distorting the facts when it shows them in a bad light.

Toronto Police communications’ director Mark Pugash concluded his comments on this by saying, “Ms. Ien has made some very serious allegations and we would encourage her to file a complaint.”

We suggested that she had:-

March 12, 2018

Mark Pugash, Director, Corporate Communications,
Toronto Police Service,
40 College Street,
Toronto, ON M5G 2J3

Re: Marci Ien

Dear Director Pugash:

I’m sorry, but the TPS and the police association counter punches to Marci Ien’s op-ed, “Driving while black – in Canada” come across as floundering knee-jerk reactions to one of this country’s not-so-dark secrets.

As an example, what video footage does or does not show discounts how ambient light varies on vehicles moving through it, and what a naked eye might distinguish. What is most telling about this one February evening though is Ms Ien’s comment, “The stop signal at my daughter’s school is half a kilometre away; why wasn’t I pulled over there? Why did he follow me home? Why, after seeing the address on my driver’s licence did he still ask if I live at my home?”

As for Toronto Police Association president Mike McCormack’s response, he’s worth every penny he earns. Like you, he often works diligently to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

File a complaint, you suggested to Ms. Ien. Why, she did, and to the most relevant of bodies….the court of public opinion.

Regretfully, Director Pugash, no sale.

Charles H. Klassen

cc Marci Ien, The Social
Mark Saunders, Chief, Toronto Police Service
Mario Di Tommaso, Staff Superintendent, TPS
Shawna Coxon, Deputy Chief, TPS
Michael McCormick, President, Toronto Police Association