After a storm of controversy, Ron Taverner has rescinded his resignation from the Toronto Police Service and is back on the job as north west district commander (Divisions 12, 23 and 31) that he left on Friday. On Saturday, Mr Taverner asked that his appointment as OPP Commissioner be put on hold pending the results of an inquiry (requested by the NDP) by the Integrity Commissioner.
Two days after the OPP Commissioner’s job was posted, the requirements (deputy police chief or higher) were lowered thus allowing Superintendent Taverner to apply and his selection, according to the Ontario Newsroom site, was the, “unanimous recommendation of a selection committee comprised exclusively of members of the Ontario Public Service and supported by Odgers Berndtson, an executive search firm.”. Apparently 23 out of the 27 candidates for the job met the original requirements so lowering them was probably not merited on the basis of a shortage of candidates.
Acting OPP Commissioner (and fellow candidate for the job) Brad Blair cried foul on Taverner’s appointment and has since been demoted.
Many pundits have claimed that the fix was in and that Taverner’s friendship with Premier Ford was the reason for his appointment. Superintendent Taverner may well have been the best candidate to lead the OPP. Unfortunately, perceptions of the Premier’s large thumb on the scale have tainted his appointment and there is likely no going back regardless of the Integrity Commissioner’s report.
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.
Saturday’s article in the National Post didn’t do Weston any favours. As a result of crimes such as repeated muggings in prominent locations, long promised security cameras have yet to be installed along Lawrence at Weston, Pine and Jane. In the story which dealt with the growing number of such cameras around the city, our councillor cheerfully painted a grim picture (contrary to the reality of falling crime levels) of how crime-ridden we are in Weston. Do we really need to give people the impression that we live in a lawless area with bullets flying?
Much of the criminal activity occurring was phone theft. While serious and traumatic for victims, these are not major crimes. When allowed to continue however, they represent a failure of policing in that they were happening regularly in the same locations and little was done to address the problem. Petty thieves became emboldened and escalated their activities. Instead of staking out these known locations or setting up foot patrols where officers walk the beat and get to know a community, TPS uses a system in which police spend much of their shift waiting for calls. Hence the common appearance of several cruisers at a crime scene. We did have a group of provincially funded TAVIS officers in the summer of 2011 but one-off solutions are ineffective. The TAVIS team rarely ventured out in groups of less than five or six and rather than being ambassadors for the police, they seemed quite intimidating on occasions.
Once criminals know about cameras in a particular location, they will simply move to another spot in which to commit their crimes. The answer to crime prevention is not simply cameras and cell-phone legislation – we can’t have cameras in every public place surely? Then what? Does crime prevention become a matter of employing teams of people who spend all day watching monitors? Perhaps send a drone over to check things out? Four million such cameras are currently in use in the U.K. They seem to do little to prevent criminal activity.
The answer is getting officers out of cars and walking the beat while getting to know a neighbourhood; especially in times and places when and where crimes are most likely to occur. The benefits will be immediate – healthier officers, better relations with the community, lower pollution levels and less crime.
In the meantime, don’t hold your breath for the cameras to appear anytime soon. In spite of a 2011 recommendation that they be installed, Toronto Police still have to ask permission from Toronto Hydro to use their poles.
In the interest of brevity, here is a paraphrasing of the highlights:
TAVIS was successful last year but moves elsewhere (31 & 23 Divisions) this summer. Video surveillance promised for last year but not delivered may be installed at Weston and Lawrence, Jane and Lawrence and in the laneway by Hickory Tree. The shots that hit the apartments on Hickory Tree Road were fired by a patron leaving a booze can. These activities are a problem but should be reduced by passage of Laura Albanese’s bill which will add teeth to liquor licence enforcement and increase penalties for serving liquor in unlicensed premises. Mike Sullivan will be introducing a motion in Parliament and raising public awareness about the need for a stolen phone registry. He is holding a press conference early next week.
The Toronto Police Service is one of the best in the world with outsiders coming to Toronto for advice on policing. Re-aligning 31 and 12 divisions has been a success. There has been a reduction in violent crime in 12 Division. Street robberies have been an issue but are not confined to the area. Changing the law (so that stolen phones cannot be re-used) will help. A stolen phone is worth up to $300 because it can be re-activated (without risk). Bell is the only major phone company that checks phones against a stolen phone registry.
Extra officers have been assigned to the area and have been advising students in schools on how to deal with suspicious individuals. The Chaminade High School students knew they were being followed but didn’t call police. Bicycles are good for making contact with the community but are not good for rapid responses. We are not facing a rash of robberies – four, not five as previously stated. Only 3 or 4 people are involved, two of whom have been arrested before. One has been caught based on video evidence. Call police whenever you suspect a crime is being committed. Don’t feel you’re wasting police time if you’re calling with good intentions.
Police on bicycles are not allowed to go through a red light in an emergency.
Policing levels are determined to some extent by the volume of calls received from the public.
It’s dismaying for the public to see Councillor Nunziata attempting to score points on Mike Sullivan by saying several times that she’s pleased the MP ‘has followed our lead on this’ (cellphone legislation). Mr Sullivan is not entirely blameless either, having publicly issued similar remarks. Governing Canada requires navigating through a complicated mess of overlapping jurisdictions. We need politicians at every level to work together to make Weston achieve its awesome potential. Nobody cares who has an idea; ideas are cheap. Successful politicians and community leaders implement good ideas through hard work and by making everyone part of the process.