Toronto Police Services Board Exhibits Independence

Update: see previous posts – September 1, 2011 Toronto Police Board Denies Promotions to Police Disciplined in G20, August 31, 2011 Superior Court Judge Allows One G20 Class-Action Lawsuit to Proceed, while Staying a Second One, August 13, 2011 Judge Declares that Toronto Police Criminalized Political Demonstrations, August 12, 2011 Toronto Deputy Police Chief Tony Warr Defends Actions of Police During G20, July 29, 2011 Judge Rules that Man Arrested at G20 Should Have Been Provided Counsel, July 23, 2011 Twenty One (21) Month Sentence for Man Who Set G20 Police Vehicle Ablaze, July 22, 2011 G20 Investigator Wants Law to Ban Disguises After 17 Suspects Unidentified, July 21, 2011 Toronto Police Chief Blair’s Report on the G20 is Deferred, June 25, 2011 G20 Summit Toronto – First Anniversary (June 26 & 27, 2011), June 18, 2011 Harper Falls Short on Toronto Businesses’ G20 Claims, June 10, 2011 G20 – Final Public Hearing for the Toronto Police’s Civilian Review, June 10, 2011 G20 – Another Arrest, June 7, 2011 G20 Update – Who Assaulted Adam? Nooobody!, June 1, 2011 Ottawa Police Enjoy Their Share of the G20 Money Pie, McGuinty to Scrap the Secret G20 Law (1939 Public Works Protection Act), March 31, 2011 The “G20 Bump” Translates into a 60% Increase of Toronto Police Making the 2010 Sunshine List, March 19, 2011 Harper Screws Toronto’s Businesses, March 18, 2011 New G20 Lawsuits Launched Against Toronto Police Board, December 7, 2010 Ontario Umbudsman André Marin Delivers Report on G20 “Caught in the Act”, August 8, 2010 G20 Litigation, August 1, 2010 Damage$ Flowing from Charter Breaches

see source – article from the Star                                                                                                                                                          

It’s good to see the Toronto Police Services Board showing some spunk. For the first time, the civilian oversight body has denied promotions to nine constables. All were involved in last year’s G20 fiasco. Chief Bill Blair recommended they be “reclassified” — awarded a higher rank and a salary increase — despite removing their name tags so they could not be identified or held responsible for their actions.

This is the kind of accountability Torontonians have been waiting to see. It is a welcome departure from the board’s past practice of rubber-stamping promotions put forward by the chief.

The union representing the officers is outraged. It has filed a grievance against the police board, contending that it is not the civilian oversight agency’s job to interfere with police promotions. “Through the collective agreement and past practices, if the chief recommends you go up, you go up,” says union president Mike McCormack.

This is nonsense. The board is under no obligation to accept the chief’s recommendations. Its job is to assess the merits of the proposal and make a reasoned decision. As its chair Alok Mukherjee pointed out, a promotion is a reward, not an entitlement.

Other critics of the police board have raised more substantive arguments. They point out that it is contrary to police policy to punish an officer twice for the same offence. The officers in question were handed a one-day suspension without pay for removing their name tags during the G20 summit. They also submit that it is contrary to the Ontario Police Services Act to withhold promotions as a disciplinary measure.

An arbitrator will have to decide these matters. But from the public’s point of view, it is essential to have a civilian oversight body that can say no to the chief, no to the police union and no to the promotion of police officers it believes have shown questionable judgment or character.

City hall insiders have tried to portray the board’s move as a vote of non-confidence in Blair. It is certainly a rare public disagreement. But the G20 was a rare event: demonstrators were beaten, bystanders were arrested, and protesters were denied their constitutional rights. Hundreds of people were detained for hours without being charged.

Fifteen months later — with half a dozen inquiries still underway — Torontonians are no closer to knowing who authorized this kind of policing and who is responsible for what happened.

The police board’s action, though small, sends the right signal to the public and the police.

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