Blair slams survey that suggests carding policy is being ignored
Chris Fox and Paul Johnston, CP24.com
Published Thursday, November 13, 2014 9:24AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, November 13, 2014 11:21PM EST
Police Chief Bill Blair is slamming a new study that suggests officers in 31 Division are ignoring tightened rules around carding and proceeding to question residents without a valid reason.
The study conducted by LogicalOutcome and presented to the Toronto Police Services Board Thursday afternoon found that 137 of 404 respondents in the northwest Toronto neighbourhood near Jane Street and Finch Avenue have been carded in the past, with 62 of those reporting that they have been carded since June.
The study was conducted after the TPSB approved a package of new rules in April, forbidding officers from stopping anyone without a valid public safety reason or prolonging meetings to obtain more information.
“What this report fails to acknowledge is some of the extraordinary work that the men and women of 31 Division and that community are doing in partnership to make it a safer place,” Blair told reporters Thursday.
“This report has suggested certain things and reached certain conclusions that I think may be based upon a long history of tension that existed with the community going back to the 80’s and it is not an accurate reflection of what is happening today.”
In the report, consultant Neil Price said there is "widespread non-compliance" with the rules surrounding carding and that many residents don’t feel safe when officers are around.
Speaking with reporters, Blair said he does not deny the “lived experience” of those who responded to the survey, but he noted that the methodology needs to be better explained, calling it “somewhat suspect.”
The police chief also said there has been a “very substantial” reduction in the number of community safety notes submitted by officers since the new carding rules went into effect.
In fact, Blair said, police have only carded 83 people in 31 Division between June 1 and Aug. 31.
“The message to me is that we still have work to do to reach out to those young people, to build strong and respectful relationships with them, but unfortunately some of the conclusions that have been drawn on what has been reported need a great deal more work,” he said.
TPSB Chair Dr. Alok Mukherjee previously told the Toronto Star that the findings contained in the report are “extremely disturbing and problematic” and represent a “crisis in confidence.”
Blair, however, told reporters Thursday that comments made by Mukherjee are in fact “inflammatory, reckless and not in the public interest.”
That criticism was reiterated by Mike McCormack, president of the Toronto Police Association, who sent out an open letter to members accusing Mukherjee of “political grandstanding.”
“It is very demoralizing when we have this sort of biased and one-sided picture presented of what policing is,” McCormack told reporters Thursday afternoon. “We don’t even know how many people were actually carded and what the context was. Let’s have all the facts.”
Similarly, in a release issued Thursday night, the Toronto Police Service Senior Officers’ Organization said that they had become “increasingly concerned and disappointed” over recent comments made by Mukherjee, including those made on the report.
“(Mukherjee) has barely had time to read the report and yet is jumping to conclusions,” the release reads.
“His comments should be based on all the facts, not his initial reaction to a survey with questionable methodology. In our view, his comments are inaccurate and ill conceived.”
The release goes on to call further describe Mukherjee’s comments as “damaging,” “offensive,” “dismissive” and “negative.”
The TPSB will reconvene Nov. 26 for a special meeting to discuss the report.
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