UARR Deputation at TPSB meeting

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Good afternoon everyone. Thank you Mr.Chair, members of the Board, Mr. Mayor, for this opportunity to speak. I am Jason Merai, Executive Director for the Urban Alliance on Race Relations and supported beside me is Mr. Audi Dharmalingam, Board member.

For the last 39 years the Urban Alliance on Race Relations has advocated on issues of anti-racism on behalf of communities. We are here today, to express our concerns like so many others, that police carding reforms have not been initiated.

It is extremely disturbing that Police carding has been used to systematically discriminate against persons of Black and Brown skin. From the Toronto Police service we have learnt it is a function for keeping people accountable. In fact, we would agree that it is an issue of accountability. It is a process for ensuring the Toronto Police Service is accountable to Toronto citizens.

As a new board there is a unique and real opportunity to make a bold statement at the offset of your inauguration:

Implement the community contact policy.

By doing so you will emphasize the importance of personal rights for those who are stopped by the police. Moreover, you will create an atmosphere of respect. At this time, people avoid the police. Yet the Toronto Police Service is here to serve and protect citizens. Instead, racialized people are accosted and accused of being linked to crimes.

This conversation has happened before? Many communities find it difficult to establish trust with the police services but what about the Police Services Board? How do you plan to ensure that this new community contact policy is being implemented and that members of the police service don’t abuse the power they posses? The CAPP report served as an adequate accountability mechanism but what are the next steps to ensure progress is not lost and abandoned?

Will the Police Service Board have 1) a finite definition of public safety to determine when an officer can voluntarily approach someone? and 2) can people know their rights from the police officer, including that they are free to walk away?

The Urban Alliance on Race Relations supports the findings of the CAPP report, understanding that the work of monitoring and researching how police implement this policy is an ongoing need for improving community-police relations. We encourage you to continue with Community Based Research so that this policy can be monitored ‘on the ground’, at the grassroots level.

Community policing should also focus on equitable community safety. The police need the citizens to trust them just as much as the citizens need to have trust in the police.

Deputation was prepared by Executive Director Jason Merai, Board Members Malika Mendez & Audi Dharmalingam. It can be viewed at 34:40  http://www.rogerstv.com/page.aspx?lid=237&rid=16&sid=3431&gid=219569 

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