Something unusual is going on at 12 Division police headquarters.
The police in 12 Division are, according to a survey of Toronto residents, are the best in the city, in terms of honesty, trustworthiness, objectivity, communication, and freedom from bias. The study, which was released on May 30, surveyed more than 1500 Torontonians for their views of neighbourhood cops.
The survey found “stark” contrasts in how residents viewed police. Whites and Asians generally found police trustworthy and unbiased. Blacks were much less likely to do so. For instance, “Nineteen percent of Torontonians believe that the city’s police officers have discriminated against them in the past because of their ethnic background. 50% of Blacks held that view – some 30% above the population estimate.”
There was another remarkable contrast: between 12 Division and the rest. 12 Division led the rest in every measure.
87% of those surveyed in 12 Division found police honest.
Only 60% did everywhere else
77% in 12 Division found police trustworthy
53% did elsewhere
10% of residents thought that the police were biased against their ethnicity
28% did city-wide
13% of 12 division residents thought the police had ethnic biases
51% of Torontonians did
This week, Frances Nunziata issued the division a certificate of appreciation to celebrate their accomplishment.
Two Toronto men were arrested in their homes today and have been charged with the murder of Nnamdi Ogba who was murdered in cold blood two weeks ago. At a press conference held on Thursday, March 29, Superinendent Ron Taverner and detective Jason Shankaran discussed the killing and the community response that led to the arrests.
Taverner and Shankaran theorized that the two suspects were arrested so quickly thanks to a sense of outrage on the part of the community along with a highly motivated police force; the police acting quickly to bring the alleged killers of an entirely blameless man into custody. They stressed that Mr. Ogba was a hard working member of the community randomly targeted while visiting friends in Scarlettwood Court. Detective Shankaran told reporters, “You can always judge a person’s family by the people that they’re surrounded by”. “And I knew I was dealing with a good man here”.
Police shift resources to 23 and 12 Divisions
At the press conference, Superintendent Taverner stated that extra police have been moved into the area to boost their visible presence in ‘troubled communities’ such as Scarlettwood so that residents can regain a sense of security in their neighbourhoods. Taverner declined to say how long the extra officers would be deployed but did say, “The public would be proud to know what the (Homicide) officers have done to bring this case before the courts”.
Congratulations to Toronto Police and also to the people who had the courage to come forward and help bring these alleged killers into custody.
Police are still seeking more information from associates of the two alleged suspects in their search for the driver of the getaway vehicle, a dark SUV.
Contact police at 416-808-7400
Crime Stoppers (anonymously) at 416-222-TIPS (8477)
Text TOR and send message to CRIMES (274637).
UPDATE: On Friday March 30, according to the Toronto Star, police announced that the alleged driver had been arrested and was in custody.
The word that the Weston and Lawrence RBC branch had been robbed twice within six days created anxiety in many people. The details of the robberies have been released and it transpires that it wasn’t an armed gang so much as a one-man mini crime wave. On March 2nd, a 30 year-old suspect allegedly saw an opportunity and attempted to grab money from a customer at an ATM. The 62 year-old customer was able to hold on to his or her money and the suspect then doubled down and allegedly went to a teller and threatened to shoot her if she did not hand over money. He allegedly fled with some cash but was not wearing a disguise.
The same person came back again on March 8th allegedly wearing sunglasses and a scarf and instead of going to a teller, made demands of the manager who complied.
The police gave no further details of the alleged suspect except that he was arrested later the same day of the second robbery and was due to appear in court last Friday.
Hats off to the brave people working at RBC in Weston. It’s got to be a horrible experience to be present during a robbery; not knowing the weaponry or state of mind of the robber(s). There are few other civilian jobs where this dangerous potential constantly looms in the background. Thankfully the police acted quickly and this man is off our streets.
One can only speculate what his alleged motivation (let alone history) was but a drug dependency might be one of his demons. Investing in more resources to directly tackle addiction and mental health is seen as more and more important as a prior intervention might have got this man some help and saved people a great deal of anxiety. Now, the courts and prison system will be his social worker, doctor and psychiatrist – at a much higher cost to all of us, and indeed to him. If he is convicted, many doors will close.
Points of interest.
Adult correctional services cost the people of Canada over $4.6 billion in 2015/16. We pay around $203 per day to keep someone in a provincial jail and $283 daily in a federal jail.
People aged between 25 and 34 are the biggest age group in jails.
Canada incarcerates about 115 people for every 100,000 of population; India, an astonishing 33 and the U.S. an equally astonishing 698.
A coat drive in 12 Division, run by the good people in the Police Liaison, the LEF, the TTC, and the TDSB, has given out more than 400 coats to chilly people in York South–Weston—including 100 kids. Now they’re looking for some hats, mitts, and scarves.
If you have any you can donate, bring them by 12 Division, at 200 Trethewey Drive.
The Toronto Police report optimistically named, ‘The Way Forward‘ is running into flak from police union head Mike McCormack. One of the suggestions in the report is to deploy officers in low crime areas to parts of the city where criminal behaviour is more prevalent. McCormack claims that after spending time to get to know a community, cops moved to other areas will be strangers. This apparently will negate all the good feelings engendered by community barbecues and the like.
Contrary to his new found love of community policing, McCormack was a fan of ‘carding‘. The practice of profiling, questioning and documenting people based on factors arbitrarily determined by an officer. Incredibly, while carding was abolished this year, data gathered in the past (some of it obtained illegally) has been retained. Carding did little to prevent crime but did much to alienate visible minorities. When I was young, many years ago I was profiled because of my youth, especially when driving. I can only imagine what it’s like to be young and black where profiling is practised.
Here in Weston it would be nice to see a few extra cops occasionally. Despite our fearsome reputation, we’re not a hotbed of crime. Although dealing drugs at 2 a.m. anywhere in the city is going to be bad for your health, the downtown waterfront is a far more dangerous place than Jane and Lawrence in the wee small hours.
The old saying goes that you can catch a lot more flies with honey than vinegar. Back in the 20th Century, police would be visible in neighbourhoods. They talked to people and patrolled where they were needed.
It’s just as well McCormack doesn’t have anything to do with fire services. The same way that it’s a good idea to put fire fighters where the fires are, let’s put cops where they’re needed, not where they’re comfortable.
The Way Forward was a catchy title used to describe best practices in Canadian palliative care, fostering success and innovation in Newfoundland and Labrador and as of today, the name of a report from Toronto Police. The report was seen to be a necessary response to a crisis of confidence in the force, the growing cost of policing and the need to adopt more modern policing methods.
It’s interesting that the public has known about the problems with Toronto Police for years. They have known about the lack of involvement in communities, an overly belligerent response to situations requiring intelligence and finesse and a large body of evidence that police treat certain visible minorities differently. The cost of policing was also an issue that had risen relentlessly in the past few years. When Rob Ford ordered a pay freeze, then Chief Bill Blair just ignored him. Mayor Tory was able to appoint his own candidate as Chief and Mark Saunders has delivered the required report.
In addition to knowing about the problems, the public has known for a long time what the solutions were. Namely that police officers should become more visible, get out of the cruisers, crack down on gangs and gun crime, walk the beat and treat all people with respect. To some extent, there seems to be a willingness in the report to do this.
While the police should have a base in the community, large fortress police stations could be replaced by several storefronts. Nothing in the report suggests that this will change other than closing some stations.
The lucrative after-hours job of paid duty now sees 80% of cops on the Sunshine List. These jobs, such as supervising road works, could be done for a lot less by others. The report tackles this to some extent.
Police forces are notoriously difficult to turn around. Part of the problem is that the qualification to apply for the job is a mere Grade 12 diploma – a requirement unlikely to attract deep thinkers. Another is the overwhelmingly male (>80%) and white (>75%) component to the force. Yet another is the complete lack of psychological profiling for suitability. Nothing in the report suggests that this will change.
Training needs to be beefed up with the emphasis on the safety of the job – very few police officers are killed or injured compared to construction workers for example. In spite of this many officers react in situations where they show fear rather than courage and the consequences can be deadly for the public. There are several mentions of increased training in the report.
Will the new report turn things around? It’s nice to see that there is a set of specific recommendations that are time and performance based so that’s a good thing. The bad thing is that although the recommendations have timelines, many are vague and require more discussion and study. Look for little or no change on these.
Here are the recommendations in the report:
Let’s hope that real change is coming.
Read the official report summary here and the full report here.