It’s time to take back our police force

Chief Mark Saunders at the Toronto Police Services Board meeting on Thursday, December 17, 2015. (Craig Robertson/Toronto Sun)

It’s time for the citizens of Toronto to take back our police service.

We empowered it to be what it is and it’s within our power to change it as we, for sale collectively, cialis will. Under successive chiefs of police, and oversight boards of patronage appointees, our police service has gone astray. It needs our help. We, as citizens, must now act to correct it.

On Thursday, the Toronto Police Services Board considered a long-awaited external review of our police service. The review, conducted by KPMG experts, is a politely worded but damning indictment of Toronto’s current and former police leadership. They have no strategy or common vision. There is no meaningful individual or corporate performance measurement. There is little rhyme or reason to how many officers there are, where they’re deployed, or how and when they’re used.

The report makes the case for immediate and massive transformation that will save millions of dollars. But that’s not going to happen if we leave it to our police chief and our police board. Instead of action, they’ve formed yet another “task force” to study this study of the past studies. The problem doesn’t need to be studied. It needs to be fixed.

The symptoms of police dysfunction are impossible to ignore:

  • Instead of saving money as ordered, our police chief refused and asked for $27 million more — for a budget that supports a non-existent strategy to achieve an undefined objective.
  • Too many citizens no longer trust our police service to do the right thing. We watch a video of a police officer wrestling a man outside a liquor store and can’t assume the cop is the good guy. We read courtroom testimony of police officers that beggar belief.
  • Neither the police chief, nor the police board chair who described the KPMG report as “random recommendations,” appear to give a damn or show any inclination to act.

In our modern, peaceful and democratic civilization, we bestow special powers on select members of our society where it’s necessary to ensure our rights and freedoms. We elect citizens to pass laws that restrict those freedoms in ways that we, collectively, assent to. We also grant specially chosen and trained citizens (our police) the power to enforce our laws, on our behalf. This authority is granted by society as a whole to a chosen few. And, society has the right to rescind or amend that grant as it so chooses. It’s time we so chose.

It’s our police service. If it no longer serves us as we wish, we must change it. And, we can. While city council can’t order the chief to make change, it does control the money. Of course, our mayor and councillors are politicians, easily cowed by officials in uniform. They need to know we stand behind them. That we insist.

It’s time for a massive public outcry. It’s time for each and every one of us to write, call and reach out to the mayor and council. Not about carding. Not about violence.

About the money.

We must demand council cut the police budget by 10% for 2016. That’s $100 million. Enough to get their attention at police headquarters, to make them understand we’re serious about changing things.

There’s a road map for that change in the KPMG report. No more studies. No more delay. No more excuses.

If we don’t act now, we’ll hear the same platitudes about “discussing long-term change” next year when they ask for $1.1 billion to feed the same force that doesn’t serve us.

This column originally appeared in The Toronto Sun on Dec. 18, 2015