In its mission statement, the TPS website lists Reliability as one of its core values. It states, “We are conscientious, professional, responsible, and dependable in our dealings with each other and our communities.” Seems hardly fitting given the closely timed resurgence of charges laid against its officers; in 2015, three TPS officers were charged for gang raping a parking enforcement officer. Currently, 14 TPS officers are suspended with pay.
“Anything that questions the integrity of the Toronto Police Service concerns me,” said Saunders as he spoke to reporters after the four officers were charged. Meanwhile making little to no mention what strategies he has to tackle police corruption. It’s concerning to citizens, but another emotional response from TPS is not what the citizens of Toronto need. What the public requires is a reliable action plan that will make them feel secure when engaging with the police. And given the recent examples, an emotional response from TPS can lead to criminal consequences, including deaths.
As of Jan. 24, shootings in 2016 exceeded the amount of gun violence in Toronto from the same time last year by 100 per cent. As a result one of the abrupt decision from the chief was a weapons strategy: equipping TPS with assault riffles. “I need a long rifle use of force out there for officer safety,” Saunders said. It seems like the calls for defense are only answered for and formulated for those who wear the uniform and not the public they ‘re meant to serve.
Citizens shouldn’t have to gamble on the integrity of the police any time they get pulled over, or are interrogated, or are experiencing emotional distress, and especially when they happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. In a CP24 article, TPS Constable Mike McCormack said, “If we took everybody off the street who was investigated by the SIU, there’d be few cops on the street. I’m embellishing but it’s a lot because it doesn’t take much for the SIU to be called.” A staggering remark, considering the SIU has cleared officers of any wrong doing in cases where innocent people have been accidentally shot by TPS, and the most notorious example that dampened the publics trust was the G20 summit in 2010, when mass arrests and excessive use of force was carried out on protesters.
Until Saunders comes up with a strategy to restore our faith in policing, he should lay off the big guns, and come up with a plan.