Community Alliance for Social Justice (CASJ)

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CASJ Position Paper on Policing and Community Safety

Posted by casjcanada on November 1, 2004

October 2004

The Canadian census recorded 308,575 people of Filipino origin in the year 2001; of this group, 133,675 were residents of the Greater Toronto Area. The large influx of Filipino immigrants, primarily women, during the 1990’s can be attributed to the Live-In Caregiver Program, which granted immigrant status to domestic workers able to fulfill the requirements of the program. Due to the high level of education, university graduates for most, attained by Filipino immigrants, and their proficiency in English, as well as an understanding of North American culture, a testament of its colonial past, Filipinos have integrated into Canadian society to a certain extent.

On October 13, 2004, at Metro Hall, the Community Alliance for Social Justice Committee organized a “Consultation Conference on Social Justice Issues in the Filipino Community.”  At the conference, 180 Filipinos residing in the Toronto area, discussed issues that affect members of the community. Five workshops were structured to address policing issues, access to professional employment equity, reforms to certain laws/services, and issues of political advocacy within the Filipino community. This paper will deal with the issues and themes that emerged from the policing workshop.

Since May 2004, the Filipino community of Toronto has continued to struggle with the grief over the unjust and untimely death of Jeffrey Reodica. Like other communities of colour, we want to effect change in how communities are being policed. Issues that emerged from the policing workshop were grouped under four categories: 1) citizen, and specially youth, and police relations; 2) policing processes and accountability structures; 3) police training and diversity initiatives; and 4) communication and mediation processes between Filipino citizens and police.

In the first category, under citizen and police relations, concerns were raised regarding how the police viewed Filipino youth with suspicion, and similarly, how the youth viewed policemen with fear. There were comments made about racial profiling and stereotyping; examples were given of police maltreatment of young black men in a specific area of the GTA.

The second category, policing processes and accountability structures generated discussions about legal rights, public education, the process of filing complaints with the police and the issues regarding community policing, who are they and how do they function. Questions were asked about police wrongdoing and their accountability to the public with regard to these transgressions. How were policemen disciplined for transgressions; what measures whether psychological testing or counseling methods were used to prevent further misdeeds? An observation was made to shift the focus from the current glamorization of violence during crisis situations to honoring the de-escalation of violence as an alternative response.  A strong concern was raised to restructure the SIU to accommodate civilian members.

The third category of police training and diversity initiatives yielded questions about the training and the curriculum of the police academy. A point was made about the diversity training, classes are brief and as currently practiced, how effective can they be in transforming police recruits to deal with the diversity in Toronto communities? A question was asked about the educational level of policemen with the premise that higher education produces individuals who could be more accepting of difference. A broad experience, involving travel and exposure to other cultures was cited as an effective means to develop tolerance and respect of others.

The last category on communication and mediation processes produced a discussion on the need to increase the role of community members in policing their own neighborhoods. Bullying, as a local community issue was raised with the comment to include schools, as key sites to communicate with children and parents.

The recommendations arrived at during the workshops can be grouped under three headings that address citizen education, police training and accountability, and communication process.

Under Citizen Education, CASJ puts forward the following recommendations:

  • To provide anti-racism education, as a valuable tool for all citizens of minority groups to have, in order to stand up for their rights
  • To ensure schools provide information sessions regarding police issues in the community, with the view of teaching youth their rights, beginning in grade 8
  • To ask the school boards to target “ At Risk” communities for educational sessions in police relations and racism issues, in order to increase the awareness of students
  • To promote parent involvement in school councils and community events so that parents can understand the issues their children face in the community

Under Police Training and Accountability, CASJ recommends the following:

  • To work towards changes in the police system, specifically towards changing the SIU into a body composed of civilians and other non-police members of the citizenry
  • To develop an accountability system, able to monitor the status of officers who have a history of violence and able to provide adequate disciplining of police officers
  • To abolish the double standard that currently exists which protects policemen from the consequences of their actions
  • To enhance diversity training courses and make the course mandatory for all policemen to attend, along with community involvement, with an added feature of being able to assess changes in behaviours and attitudes intermittently
  • To increase the placement of minority recruits into the police force to reflect the current diverse community

Under Communication and Mediation Process, CASJ recommends the following:

  • To identify crime issues that the Filipino community is most vulnerable to and educate the police about them
  • To have a centralized location where community members and police can interact and discuss issues
  • To develop a formal communication process that keeps police aware of community events, attitudes and sentiment that can be verified within the community
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