Improving Training for Police Services Boards: A Neglected Commitment
Alok Mukherjee says the Ford government has failed to follow through on an announcement of new training in 2019 to improve governance and accountability for police service administrators.
The “Thunder Bay Model” that was to be used to train members of police services boards across Ontario has not been created, contrary to what was announced in 2019, according to Alok Mukherjee, a former president of the Ontario Association of Police Services Boards (AOCSP).
This model needed to be in place to ensure law enforcement was held to account.
Mr. Mukherjee made the claim on Friday as he presented to the media the interim report of the independent panel of experts hired by the Thunder Bay Police Services Board (TBPSB).
That who chairs the group recalled that the Thunder Bay model was recommended in 2018 by former Senator Murray Sinclair after an investigation into the CSPTB requested by the Ontario Civilian Commission on Policing (OCPC).
Former Independent Senator Murray Sinclair recommended in late 2018 the temporary dismantling of the Thunder Bay Police Services Board because of the systemic racism he had been able to observe.
Mr. Mukherjee says the Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General, under the Liberal government, funded mandatory training for directors, offered by the OACSP.
Ford Government Elected in 2018, however, did not provide the funds to enable the development of the Thunder Bay model.
CSPTB members still received training in 2019, thanks to the Liberal funding already provided to AOCSP.
It's an issue right now, and a topic of conversation within the AOCSP and police services boards, said Alok Mukherjee.
“Commission members find they are being thrown into the fray [and] they are scrambling to figure out how to provide governance to [a police chief] who has far more resources and training than them. »
— Alok Mukherjee, Chair of the Independent Panel of Experts hired by the Thunder Bay Police Services Board
Mr. Mukherjee says the province needs to do more to equip the people who sit on these commissions.
At the press briefing, Alok Mukherjee presented proposals for action designed to guide the selection of a new police chief and the formation of a new police services board after the municipal elections.
The Thunder Bay Police Service and the civilian commission that oversees it face deep political divisions and mental health issues that affect officers.
Investigations have been opened in recent months, including by the Ontario Provincial Police.
Several complaints have been filed with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario by police officers, civilian employees and a member of the CSPTB.
The commission was placed under the supervision of an external administrator in April, shortly after recruiting the group of experts.
The interim report is titled A Urgent memorandum to the Thunder Bay Police Services Board from the Independent Expert Panel.
According to Alok Mukherjee, there is an opportunity to act now, without waiting for his group's final report, which will be tabled in January 2023, particularly given the imminent retirement of leader Sylvie Hauth.
< p class="e-p">In addition to Mr. Mukherjee, the task force included the President of the Police Association of Ontario, Mark Baxter, the former Chief of Police of North Bay, Paul Cook, former Toronto Police Deputy Chief Keith Forde, and Indigenous lawyer Candice Metallic.
To arrive at their proposals, the panel members consulted several documents, including Murray Sinclair's report and that of the Office of the Independent Police Review Director.
They also met with more than 70 people and organizations, including Indigenous leaders, police officers and former members of the CSPTB.< p class="sc-v64krj-0 knjbxw">Alok Mukherjee urges the Thunder Bay Police Services Board to make efforts to attract Indigenous or racialized candidates to replace Sylvie Hauth.
Without suggesting it himself, he mentions that several people consulted in recent weeks hope that the next chief or chief is not already an employee of SPTB.
The independent experts list several characteristics that should be considered when selecting the next chief, including management experience, as well as knowledge of the area's First Nations and their relationship with the City of Thunder Bay.
One of the next leader's priorities should be to establish a formal partnership with Indigenous policing.
The panel also wants the CSPTB become the first commission of its kind in Canada to have mandatory minimum Indigenous representation.
The expert panel advises expanding the board from five to seven members, with the agreement of the province, and adequately training these individuals.
The committee strongly suggest reserving one seat for a member of Fort William First Nation, neighboring Thunder Bay, and two others for a representative of another Northwestern First Nation.
Fort William First Nation lives just south of Thunder Bay.
Currently, the committee is made up of two members of Thunder Bay City Council, one member of the public appointed by the City, and two other members selected by the province.
The group of experts also advocates five-year terms for the presidency and vice-presidency of the CSPTB, to ensure more stability, and make the presidency a full-time position with the same salary as that of councilors Municipalities.
According to Alok Mukherjee, the Municipality should take the initiative to communicate with the province and the First Nations of the region to recruit the best candidates for the CSPTB.
The report also presents the main actions that the next members of the committee should take.
The third issue addressed in the interim report is that of labor relations.
The group of experts urges the CSPTB to commit to implementing a labor relations model that takes trauma into account and to call on an independent expert to develop new internal policies in this direction.
The report recommends nde also the creation of a unit responsible for equity, diversity and inclusion issues.
With information from Jon Thompson of CBC< /p>