Police Unions tactics of shaming Police Chiefs

by André Marin

Police Unions tactics of shaming Police Chiefs

by André Marin

by André Marin

There’s a disturbing re-emerging tactic deployed by the Toronto Police Association and the Durham Regional Police Association to use surveys from their membership to demonstrate displeasure with their Chief by shaming and embarrassing them and asking for their head on a platter.

Unions, by nature, serve many roles. One of them is to grow membership and the union dues that fill their coffers. This is at odds with police services who are trying to find efficiencies and modernize how they do business. And god knows, there’s a lot of gravy in police budgets.

Who hasn’t seen a Toronto police officer standing at the most minor of construction sites, such as fixing a pot hole? Do we really want highly trained, highly paid (often well into the six digits) cops used as posts “guarding” the scene? Couldn’t a private security firm do just as well a job at a much lower cost? Should the police really be attending scenes of break and enters after the fact simply to take a report? Can’t a civilian trained to do this task also not be allowed to fill out the form in a more cost-effective way?

TPA Board of Directors proclaimed that a “no confidence vote sends a message to the Chief, our elected City leaders, and the community that our members have lost confidence in the Chief’s ability to act in the best interests of the membership and the community.”

No so fast. Although the dissatisfaction with Toronto Chief Saunders is said to be as high as 86 per cent, less than half the union membership bothered to vote. Not to be outdone, the union is playing the safety card, putting up a big billboard downtown with the grinning faces of Mayor John Tory, Saunders and police services chair Andrew Pringle screaming “these guys are putting your safety on hold.”

Former Chief Julian Fantino also faced a similar non-confidence vote during his tenure. He said: “It’s an old hat kind of thing that’s used quite often in the United States. In fact, it was born there (and) sort of transported here in Canada.” A bad import, just like the militarization of our police.

Toronto police board chair Andy Pringle rightfully backed-up Saunders, so did Tory, noting that some people are naturally resistant to change. Saunders also noted that it was an election year for the police union.

An equally hysterical reaction came from the DRPS union. 52% of the membership want Chief Paul Martin immediately removed. Problem is only 36 per cent of the membership bothered to answer the online survey. The board there also backed their Chief.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the next survey came from the Ottawa Police Association. The union has been feuding with Chief Bordeleau where union boss Matt Skof has made a point of boycotting events attended by Bordeleau. Seems childish to me.

I’ve had my disagreements with Chiefs of police in the past, most recently in this space on their position not to notify the Special Investigations Unit in case of unsuccessful Naxalone interventions leading to serious injury or death.

On the need to modernize and find efficiencies in how police operate, they’ve got my vote. Instead of bringing bad practices of police forces south of the border, unions should realize that their conduct brings into disrepute the enforcement of the law. They are only embarrassing themselves.

As Lord Robert Peel, the father of modern policing once said: “The police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.” So, get to it.

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