Toronto: 80% of Police Made $100,000+, Other Cities Are Catching Up

Update: see previous post – April 12, 2016 Paid-duty assignments earned Toronto police officers over $25M last year

Peel Region police are among the GTA police forces increasingly showing up on the provincial sunshine list of public employees earning over $100,000.
Peel Region police are among the GTA police forces increasingly showing up on the provincial sunshine list of public employees earning over $100,000.

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Almost 80 per cent of uniformed Toronto police officers are on the list of public servants making more than $100k. Other GTA forces come close.

An analysis of data by the Star has found a trend of skyrocketing police salaries across the GTA: almost 80 per cent of uniformed Toronto police officers made the 2015 Sunshine list, a 108 per cent increase over five years in the number of officers on the list.

York Region Police saw a 183 per cent increase in officers on the list, compared to 2010, with 70 per cent of its officers now making more than $100,000.

Some police board members across the GTA defend the increases and say the Sunshine list presents a skewed picture. It doesn’t factor in inflation, or the fact that many police forces only recently began reporting paid duty wages (earned during an officer’s time off) on the income column of the list, instead of the one for taxable benefits.

Others say the Sunshine list illustrates a rapid rise in police salaries across the GTA that can’t continue.

“Across the board, they’re not sustainable,” says Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti, chair of the York Regional Police Services Board. “What we have to do is keep the salary increases in line with inflation.”

York had 379 uniformed police officers on the 2010 public sector salary disclosure (Sunshine) list — 26.6 per cent of its uniformed staff. The 2015 list has 1,072 York officers on the list, 70 per cent of the 1,535 uniformed staff complement.

Pay increases in the GTA for uniformed officers, required to have only a high school education, have outpaced inflation by about 20 to 30 per cent over a decade. Base salary hikes are only a fraction of a controversial, little-known system of increases that can add as much as 17 per cent annually to the publicly revealed pay increases.

Scarpitti is one of many who told the Star the current system of arbitrated settlements for police contracts — using salary and benefit increases won in contract disputes by forces across Ontario as benchmarks — is not working.

“Police salaries have outpaced inflation and the increases received by other municipal sector employees for some time, and that has been a concern for our board and others across the province,” Roger Anderson, chair of the Durham Police Services Board, said in an email.

“Two out of the last three contracts have been settled through arbitration as the board could not support the increases being asked for by the (Durham Police) Association,” Anderson said, “and we are currently just starting the arbitration process again for this year’s agreement.”

Contracts in the GTA will provide first-class constables with base salaries that automatically put many on the Sunshine list.

The new chair of the Peel Police Services Board defends increases in the latest contract, which by 2019 will put all first-class constables over the $100,000 mark on entry-level base pay, plus top-ups that will give some a base wage as high as $117,491.

“The collective agreement negotiated last year between our board and the Peel Regional Police Association … featured increases that for the most part are below the anticipated levels of inflation,” said Amrik Ahluwalia.

Paul Black, president of the Peel Region Police Association, said in an email Monday that the message policing salaries are non-sustainable “is not borne out in the facts.”

Black said the 2014 Region of Peel financial report showed over the previous five years, “police expenditures grew at rates less than the majority of other government services.

“In negotiations last year, the Peel Regional Police Association worked with the Police Services Board to produce an agreement that satisfied financial pressures coming to bear on the board and included concessions that our members accepted in a five year collective agreement,” Black said. “Furthermore, over 90 per cent of all collective agreements in the policing sector are reached through negotiation.”

Black added that police compensation was addressed during current contract talks, and wage increases will be at or below forecast inflation rates between now and 2019. “The current agreement was reached after considerable concessions by our association going forward, which the Peel Police Services Board felt would produce “net zero” budget impacts.”

The Peel force saw a 95 per cent increase in the number of uniform officers who made the Sunshine list from 2010 to 2015: from 664 uniform officers out of a complement of 1,855 in 2010, to 1,297 officers out of a total of 1,951 in 2015.

Almost 80 per cent of uniformed Toronto police officers made the 2015 Sunshine list, a 108 per cent increase over five years in the number of officers on the list.
Almost 80 per cent of uniformed Toronto police officers made the 2015 Sunshine list, a 108 per cent increase over five years in the number of officers on the list.

In Toronto, recent police collective bargaining agreements have led to a decrease of 349 in the overall number of uniformed police officers between 2010 and 2015. Meanwhile, the number who made the Sunshine list more than doubled, from 2,063 to 4,282, in just five years.

Employment in the uniform ranks now almost guarantees membership in the $100,000-a-year club — 78.9 per cent of the force’s uniform officers made the Sunshine list in 2015. And by 2018, the base salary for a first-class constable will rise almost five per cent from the current rate to $98,450, with those who receive the maximum retention pay set to make $107,312.

Toronto’s latest contract will, by 2018, give a first-class constable without retention pay, overtime, paid duty income or other premiums an income just $1,550 less than the Sunshine list threshold. The 2018 base salary represents a 38 per cent increase from 2006, when the base salary was $71,522. Typically, it takes about three years to become a first class constable.

Police forces often mention the risky nature of the work when the issue of compensation is raised.

Crime data compiled by Statistics Canada shows crime rates and severity of crime have been on a sharp decline since the early ’90s. But police board members said it’s unclear whether rising police pay has contributed to that.

“What you’re starting to see is communities out there that recognize they value what emergency personnel do, they absolutely do,” Scarpitti said. “No one in their right mind would ever say they don’t do an important job. But, there is a limit to how much people will extend themselves, graciously, to pay for that, knowing that, one, some of them live in some of the safest communities in North America and two, that crime has been going down.”

HOW TO BUILD AN EXPENSIVE COP

Follow the base salary for a first class constable and watch premiums pile on:

Peel police officer pay

$71,400: Base salary for first class constable 2006

$100,420: Base salary for first class constable 2019

Retention Pay

$109,458: Top pay for a first class constable as of 2019 factoring in the “3, 6, or 9” per cent increase paid annually

Investigative Premium

$117,491: Top pay for a first class constable as of 2019 including retention pay of a 9 per cent and an “investigative premium” of 2, 4 or 8 per cent, depending on the department

Total increase between 2006 and 2019:

41%: The pay increase established in Peel police’s new contract for the lowest base pay for a first class constable.

61%: The pay increase for a first class constable with 0-7 years of experience with no investigative premium, who moves into the 17- to 22-year category and receives an additional 8 per cent annual investigative premium and an additional 6 per cent in annual retention pay. This does not include overtime and off duty pay

OTHER FACTORS

Arbitration issue

When a municipality and police union reach a stalemate on contract issues an arbitrator can be brought in to break the deadlock by handing down a decision.

The arbitrator’s ruling is binding, and municipalities argue that is where their problems begin.

“It’s easy for an arbitrator to take out his pen and sign that decision. At the end of the day, when they look at our ability to pay what they mean is, ‘It’s okay, all you have to do is raise your taxes, and your taxpayers will pay it.’ That’s where they have us,” says Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti.

Budget problems

Across the GTA, the payroll costs of police forces account for about 90 per cent of police operating budgets.

And base salaries are only part of it. The reality, municipal officials say, is that police salaries are rocketing far beyond other public-sector incomes once you add in all the additional pay upgrades.

Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie is working with other Ontario mayors to rein in runaway police salaries. She says she hopes “the Ontario government will take action to reform the arbitration system to create a more level playing field across the province.”

Retention pay

Retention pay was instituted to attract applicants and retain staff, but Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti said keeping staff has never been a problem. “We have never, ever, ever had a shortage of people applying to our fire service or to the police. Ever.” He said because Toronto police got retention pay, York’s force wanted it and got it through arbitration. With retention pay, after about seven years officers get three per cent raises, six per cent after 16 years and nine per cent after about 23 years – on top of the negotiated annual increases.

Raise, repeat; raise, repeat

Over time, a constant cycle of raises has pushed salaries up and up, Mayor John Tory says.

“They have had a whole history of how compensation has been set over time, a lot of it by arbitration,” says Tory. “And we are where we are.”

But Ron Bain, executive director of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, says salaries are where they should be. “Most of them are following the inflation rate.”

Real police work only, please

Mayor John Tory said that if “expensive” police are going to be paid professional salaries, the board must “have them spend less time catching left turn offenders and directing traffic and more time doing real police work.”

Toronto’s top earning constable last year, Abdulhameed Virani, made $242,524. In 2008, when he was also near the top, the Star reported that much of that came from attending traffic court, under a contract stipulation allowing officers to earn 1.5 times their regular pay for attending court on their day off, with a minimum four hours’ pay even if they spent only 10 minutes there.

Having an officer defend a $50 ticket he or she handed out for a traffic offence could cost taxpayers about $300 in overtime pay.

Ontario: Senior Hitched then ditched by marriage ‘predator’

Update:

When the wedding was done, Galina Baron left her 89-year-old husband at a Toronto subway stop. Charlie Juzumas took the TTC home, alone. He didn’t know it yet, but he had just become entangled in a predatory marriage.
When the wedding was done, Galina Baron left her 89-year-old husband at a Toronto subway stop. Charlie Juzumas took the TTC home, alone. He didn’t know it yet, but he had just become entangled in a predatory marriage.

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Galina Baron, 65, married Charlie Juzumas, 89, with the promise that he’d never have to go to a nursing home. He didn’t know it yet, but he had just become entangled in a predatory marriage.

She promised to be a caring bride who’d keep him out of a nursing home.

When the wedding was done, Galina Baron left her 89-year-old husband at a Toronto subway stop.

Charlie Juzumas took the TTC home, alone. He didn’t know it yet, but he had just become entangled in a predatory marriage.

Juzumas was Baron’s sixth or maybe eighth husband. She had trouble remembering them all, according to a 2012 Ontario Superior Court judgment filed after Juzumas tried to reclaim the house she took from him.

This story is based on Justice Susan Lang’s court judgment, an affidavit and interviews. Baron and her son, Yevgeni, refused to comment.

Juzumas was the husband who got away, but it was a precarious escape.

Related:

Jim Daniel’s daughters lost their father and inheritance to the lady next door

How Ontario’s laws make seniors an easy target for ‘predatory marriages’

When Baron married him on Sept. 27, 2007, the 65-year-old bride had been offering caretaking to vulnerable widowers with the expectation of a mention in their will, according to the judgment.

Age was not Juzumas’ weakness. He did yard work, planted flowers and seemed entirely self-sufficient, although he once accepted a tenant’s offer to climb a ladder and remove storm windows. His vulnerability came from a fear of dying in a nursing home.

It’s unclear if Baron knew this when she knocked on his door in 2006. Both were born in Lithuania, 24 years apart. Baron spoke the language of his home country and offered housework.

He was reluctant but she kept coming back. As her visits increased to three times a week, he started to see her as a saviour who’d keep him at home.

Juzumas’ wife, Malvina, died a decade earlier and they had no children, but his memories lived in this house. It was a three-storey Victorian, with stained-glass windows near the west Toronto neighbourhood of Beaconsfield.

Baron pushed for marriage, saying she merely wanted a widow’s pension. She clinched the deal by promising he’d never go to a nursing home.

The day before they married, Baron and Juzumas went to see a lawyer named Stan Mamak in the Roncesvalles neighbourhood. The court judgment detailed Mamak’s actions.

In a recent interview, Mamak said he did his best to independently represent Juzumas’ interests and believed the elderly man was a willing participant. “Just because someone is old doesn’t mean they are infirm,” he said.

Without meeting Juzumas separately to ask his wishes, Mamak wrote a will making Baron the sole executor and beneficiary of his estate, the judgment found.

Baron never did move in, but she spent her daytime visits berating him, according to witness testimony, the judgment said. She got joint access to his bank account. He paid her $800 a month for housekeeping and she took all but $100 of his tenants’ $1,300 monthly rent, said the judgment, which found Baron had “unclean hands.”

According to her affidavit, his new tenant, Pamela Detlor, studied Juzumas’ reaction to Baron. The moment Baron marched through his front door, Juzumas’ shoulders slumped, Detlor said. He was so afraid to speak that she initially thought he was mute. Later, he’d confide his troubles in Detlor saying, “I am a stupid old man,” according to the judgment.

Two years after the wedding, Juzumas realized he’d made a mistake, both in marriage and in the will that gave Baron his estate. He went to a different lawyer who wrote a new will. (The judgment doesn’t say why he didn’t choose Mamak, the original lawyer who wrote the first will of their marriage.) Baron would now inherit $10,000. The rest was bequeathed to his niece in Lithuania. The bulk of his estate came from his home, worth roughly $600,000 in 2009.

Baron soon discovered this act of rebellion. She went to see Mamak. The judgment states that Mamak believed it was Baron who was the victim, a “wronged, vulnerable spouse/caregiver.”

Mamak told the Star that Baron described Juzumas as a violent man, saying she claimed he threatened to cut her in half with a sword.

“In retrospect, I feel she was probably trying to manipulate my image of her — that she was an innocent victim,” Mamak said.

Together, Baron and Mamak came up with the idea to transfer the title of the house to her son, Yevgeni, the judgment found. Mamak said he improved the agreement, letting Juzumas live in the house with his name on title until his death.

A meeting was arranged to add Baron’s son Yevgeni to the house title. That morning, 91-year-old Juzumas ate a bowl of Baron’s soup, becoming “dizzy, as if I’d taken a strong drink,” he later told court.

Tired and disoriented, Juzumas signed the papers, giving away his financial security to a young man he disliked. The judgment later found there was no evidence Mamak spoke to Juzumas without Baron in the room, nor did he tell him the new agreement was “virtually eviscerating” his recent will. (Mamak said he believes he spoke to Juzumas independently but has no notes to prove it.)

When Juzumas learned of Baron’s ruse through a legal followup letter two weeks later, Juzumas’ long-time neighbour, Ferne Sinkins, drove him to the lawyer’s office. Baron arrived a few minutes later, but was told to wait. Juzumas emerged from his meeting with Mamak saying he was told the transfer was “in the computer; it can’t be changed,” the judgment said.

He returned the following week with the same request. Again, Baron appeared — an “unexplained coincidence,” the judge found. (Mamak denied tipping off Baron, saying she was probably following Juzumas.) This time, she demanded a new will and power of attorney over his medical care.

At home, his tenant thought he was “doped up.” His neighbour questioned the large gash on his forehead. Juzumas said he passed out, adding that Baron told him he fell down the stairs. He didn’t want to go to the hospital, fearing he’d be taken to a nursing home. During a rare evening visit, Baron called an ambulance claiming Juzumas was sick. His tenant, Detlor, told the attendants of Baron’s abuse.

Questioned by hospital staff, Baron called Juzumas a violent, pathological liar who should be sent to a nursing home. Instead, staff sent him home where helpful tenant Detlor insisted he change the locks. The day Baron came to get a few possessions left on the porch, Juzumas lay flat on the couch so she couldn’t see him.

Juzumas took his case to court. Baron fought back. The judge gave him a divorce and reversed the transfer of his house, blaming it on Baron and Yevgeni’s “undue influence of a vulnerable elder.”

Two years later, Juzumas sold his home for $910,000 and, neighbours said, returned to Lithuania with his niece.

British Airways Pilot Claims Drone Came Into Contact with Aircraft

Update: see previous posts – March 20, 2016 Drones in Canada Require Insurance Liability Coverage, February 10, 2016 Transport Canada – Flying a Drone Recreationally, June 1, 2015 Canada: New Drone (Unmanned Air Vehicles – UAV’s) Laws on the Horizon

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2b/British_Airways_Boeing_787-8_G-ZBJB.jpg
A Pilot reported to police, that an object, believed to be a drone, struck the front of the British Airways passenger aircraft he was piloting, as he was attempting to land at Britain’s Heathrow Airport. photo by commons.wikimedia.org

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Increasing reports of near-misses between drones and commercial aircraft

A British Airways passenger aircraft was hit by what most likely was a drone as it prepared to land at Britain’s Heathrow Airport, police said, increasing worries about the risks posed by increasing civil drone use.

Police said the pilot of the BA flight from Geneva had reported that he believed a drone had struck the aircraft before it landed safely on Sunday at Terminal 5.

Britain’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch confirmed on Monday that it had launched an investigation into an incident involving an unmanned air vehicle and a passenger aircraft at Heathrow, Europe’s busiest airport.

http://o.aolcdn.com/hss/storage/midas/bff139faa32f275274cfa183e710d9c5/202576280/phantom3recrop.jpg
Transport Canada’s current guidelines say drones should be flown at least nine kilometres away from airports, no higher than 90 metres above the ground and at least 150 metres away from people, buildings and vehicles. Updated laws are coming according to Transport Canada spokespeople. photo by www.engadget.com

The use of civil drones, whether for commercial purposes such as crop surveillance, monitoring of natural disasters, photography or just as a leisure activity, is rising. That popularity has led to increasing reports of near-misses with commercial aircraft.

The European Commission has conceded that “drone accidents will happen”, while the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority last year issued a warning after seven incidents in less than a year where drones had flown near planes at different British airports.

Pilots’ associations and others have called for drones to be fitted with geo-fencing technology, which uses GPS software to stop them straying into certain areas, along with height and distance limits. They also call for registration of drones.

Currently Transport Canada can issue fines of up to $25,000 for improper use of a recreational drone, depending on the circumstances, such as whether a drone user is “wilfully violating airspace” or posing a threat to an aircraft trying to land. photo by www.cityofslt.us

Commenting on the latest incident, the British Airlines Pilots Association said that more education for drone users and stronger enforcement of the rules around drones were needed to keep aircraft safe.

“It was only a matter of time before we had a drone strike given the huge numbers being flown around by amateurs who don’t understand the risks and the rules,” BALPA flight safety specialist Stephen Landells said.

British Airways, which is owned by IAG, said in its statement that the aircraft, which had 132 customers and five crew on board, was fully examined by engineers before being cleared to operate its next flight.

The incident was reported to police by the pilot after the flight landed at about 6:50 a.m. ET on Sunday.

“It transpired that an object, believed to be a drone, had struck the front of the aircraft,” the police said.

The incident on Sunday followed another at Heathrow in February, when a New York-bound plane was forced to return to the airport after a “laser beam incident”.

http://www.enterprisecontrol.co.uk/images/products/69559225_a.jpg
Technology has been created in the U.K. to bring down Drones or their technical name, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s). This technology has a strong directional antenna which can target the Drone and simultaneously drown it out with radio waves. These radio waves will prevent the original Drone operator from controlling the Drone and will stop the Drone in its’ tracks. photo by http://www.enterprisecontrol.co.uk

Employment Insurance Reforms – Dedicated Daddy Leave

Update:

The Liberals promised during the election to extend parental benefits under the employment insurance system to 18 months from 12. photo by www.etsy.com

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The federal government is signalling that when it finally unveils changes to parental leave rules, there will be provisions dedicated exclusively to new fathers.

When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau mused about the idea last month at the United Nations, it was in the context of more gender equality and increasing opportunities for women in the workforce.

In an interview this week, Labour Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk said she’s interested in making dedicated paternity leave a part of promised changes to parental leave under the Employment Insurance program.

The Labour Minister wants to see “father’s leave” on a national scale. She stated that if you have children under two, it’s a real challenge for those families. photo by blog.zutano.com

Dedicated leave for biological fathers is already in place in Quebec, where biological fathers are allowed to take five weeks of leave with the provincial benefits system covering 70 per cent of their salary. That’s on top of the 18 weeks of leave available to new biological mothers and the 32 weeks of joint parental leave that can be shared between new parents.

Elsewhere in Canada, new parents can split up to 35 weeks of leave between them, on top of the up to 15 weeks biological moms can take on their own.

Mihychuk said she’s keen to see dedicated leave for fathers allowed on a national scale.

“I’m open to promoting some fairly large changes in that whole sector because families have a tough time — especially when you have preschoolers,” she said in an interview with The Canadian Press this week.

“And if you have children under two, it’s a real challenge for those families, so I think we want to modernize the system.”

Labour Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk says she’s keen to see dedicated leave for fathers allowed on a national scale.

The Liberals promised during the election to extend parental benefits under the employment insurance system to 18 months from 12.

The new system wouldn’t have a similar increase in benefits, but would instead allow parents to spread one year’s worth of payments over a year and a half.

Critics of the plan say such a system would only benefit those women and families who have enough resources to cover expenses during a year where one or both parents have reduced income.

As well, research suggests that the more time women take on maternity leave, the less likely they are to return to full-time work.

The federal budget unveiled last month widened employment insurance eligibility and increased benefits, but didn’t make any changes to parental or compassionate care leave for Canadians caring for a seriously ill family member.

Instead, the budget said changes to each program “will be advanced over the course of the government’s mandate.”

That disappointed some parents, including the group Toronto Mommies, which started an online petition with more than 37,000 signatures demanding the government fulfil its election promise.

Mihychuk said the government is going to consult with Canadians in the coming months about changes.

“We’re going to look at the overall program on maternity and family leave or parental, and compassionate (care), we’re going to make it more flexible, but maybe we need to look at it even bigger,” she said.

“This is like Phase 2 of the EI reforms.”

The SIU police the police — but a problem exists in who they staff

Update:

Andre Marin says that during his tenure as head of the Special Investigations Unit in the 1990s it wasn’t uncommon to find investigators coming in wearing their old police rings and ties.

see source

Many investigators are former cops, prompting criticism that the SIU needs more civilians to gain public confidence.

Their task: police the police.

Their problem: ex-police do the policing.

Runners

Since its inception a quarter-century ago, that has been one of the sticking points for critics of the province’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU). The oversight body that probes fatal incidents involving police is itself partly staffed with former cops. André Marin, former Ontario ombudsman and SIU director in the mid-1990s, said investigators have been known to show up to work wearing old police rings and police ties.Cruiser and motorbike

“We couldn’t get them to stop,” he said in an interview Friday. “I thought it was a factory producing these cookie-cutter figures: early 50s, white men who had spent 30 years working as police officers.”

At a moment of heightened scrutiny and criticism — calls to identify to the police officer that shot and killed Andrew Loku and release the report that cleared the cop of criminal wrongdoing in his death — it’s worth asking: who is the SIU?

Jason Gennaro, an SIU spokesperson, told the Star in an emailed statement that 80 people work at the organization.

The main hub is at the head office in Mississauga, home to SIU director Tony Loparco — a former Crown attorney — and much of the organization’s top brass. This includes executive officer William Curtis, the overseer of the investigative wing, who was a Guelph police officer for 22 years before joining the SIU in 2000, according to the website.

Gennaro said the SIU has 14 lead investigators, and that “only three” of them have “any policing experience.” The SIU also employs eight forensic officers, an in-house lawyer, administrative managers, transcribers and clerks. There are 31 other investigators who are stationed around the province and brought in as needed, Gennaro said.

It isn’t clear how many of them are former police; Gennaro did not disclose the background of employees other than the 14 lead investigators.

Peter Rosenthal, a Toronto lawyer, said it should be easier to find out who they are.

“I don’t see any reason for secrecy about that,” he said. “They should be proud of their investigators.”

The rationale for ex-cops working at the SIU can be traced back to 1989, when the Policing and Race Relations Task Force that spurred the organization’s creation recommended that former detectives should investigate incidents involving police. The idea was that, because they have the expertise and experience of criminal inquiries, they were the best fit for the job.

To avoid conflicts of interest, the legislation governing the SIU includes a clause that prohibits investigators from probing incidents involving a member of a police force where they used to work.Cruiser accident

Another line of thinking to support ex-cops in this job is that investigators with policing experience will be given higher respect and status from subject officers, and therefore get further in their searches for information, said Paul McKenna, president of Public Safety Innovation and an adjunct professor at Dalhousie University.

McKenna co-authored a 2007 study that looked at police conduct investigation bodies around the world, concluding that the most effective models, like the SIU, have a civilian at the top and employ a mix of former cops and civilians as investigators.

But McKenna said his position has evolved in the face of waning public confidence in the SIU and its analogues in other provinces. He now argues there should be more civilian investigators because this would improve the public’s belief in the independence and fairness of SIU activities.

“People get a bad taste in their mouths when they see police are investigating themselves,” he said.

Sandy Hudson, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Toronto movement that protested the Loku decision outside police headquarters from mid-March to early April, said she wants more transparency from the SIU. A start would be to post all of the SIU’s employees displayed on the organization’s website, she said.

Hudson added that she is suspicious that former police working as investigators could exhibit the same lack of understanding about “systemic racism” that she charges is on display among leaders in law enforcement agencies across the province.

“How do we know that they’re not affected by that kind of culture?” she asked. “That’s a huge problem.”