Independent Expert Panel Seeks More Inclusive Police Services Board

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THUNDER BAY – NEWS – The Independent Expert Panel reporting on the Thunder Bay Police Services Board has issued an interim report. Chair Alok Mukherjee says that one of the goals the panel seeks is for greater community engagement from the Police Services Board with the public, as well as the hope that through that the Police Services Board will be more responsive to the public in our city and region.

The Independent Expert Panel, appointed by the Thunder Bay Police Services Board, and supported by the OCPC appointed Administrator, released its Interim Report this morning, Turning the Page: An Urgent Memo to the Thunder Bay Police Services Board, following a successful week of consultations with community members and members of the Thunder Bay Police Service.

The report states: “For far too long, the Board has been unable to provide the quality of leadership required. This is not a reflection on the dedicated people who have
served as board members. It is, however, a comment on the collective failure of several decision makers to ensure Thunder Bay has the level and quality of civilian governance it deserves.”

“Since our appointment as an Independent Expert Panel in March by the Thunder Bay Police Services Board, we have met with over 90 members of the community, including the Indigenous community, present and past members of the police service and the board and experts to listen and to learn about the issues and challenges related to mental health, human rights and workplace culture,” say Alok Mukherjee, Chair of the Panel. “It became clear to us that bold leadership and bold action were needed urgently. We strongly believe that this Interim Report, if actioned immediately, will set the stage for meaningful, real change in how policing and police governance occur in Thunder Bay.”

The Panel concluded that there was an immediate need to present actionable measures to the Thunder Bay Police Services Board and Thunder Bay Police Service in the following three areas:

  • Chief Selection
  • Board Appointments
  • Labour Relations

These specific items were chosen based on the significant information gathered from consultations and active timelines regarding the search for a new Chief and soon, the new members of the Thunder Bay PSB, as well as ongoing Labour Relations challenges.

The Panel concluded that the processes currently underway or about to begin with the selection of a new Chief of Police and the appointment of a new Board presented an opportunity for creating the conditions for the changes recommended by the various inquests, reviews and investigations into the delivery and governance of policing in Thunder Bay and the region.

This Interim report presents nearly 50 proposals for action to set the Service and the Board on a path forward.

Mukherjee sat down with NetNewsLedger on Monday, September 19, to share the panel’s work thus far. A full report will be presented early in 2023.

The interim report details immediate priorities for the Board and the Service to address through concrete and tangible actions.

The report says, “While these actions set the stage for meaningful change, our work will not end here. We continue to actively consult and explore approaches that are responsive to the demographic and geographic realities of Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario. In particular, we seek to propose a culturally appropriate and compatible model of service that accounts for and has representation from the local and remote Indigenous populations. It is not sufficient to only consult with these communities. There must be representation that is reflective of the demographic realities of the region for the Board and the Service to provide the “adequate and effective” policing services needed and expected by the communities of Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario.

“It is generally agreed, both in the community and within the Board and the Service, that TBPS serves people drawn from the region. From our extensive discussions with community leaders, experts and those responsible for delivery of policing services in and around Thunder Bay as well as review of documentary information, we are persuaded that issues of mental health, human rights, and workplace culture are best and most effectively dealt with through a regional model of policing. A cooperative system of service delivery, with governance that reflects it, will provide the capacity, the resources, the knowledge, skills, and relationships to deliver effective, culturally appropriate service, build trusted connections, and ensure restorative justice”.

Selection of the New Chief of Police

The report states: “Priority Characteristics for Selecting a New Chief of Police
The attributes for a new Chief of Police listed below reflect our determination of the highly desired characteristics required to confront the issues and challenges facing Thunder Bay Police Service today. As well, these reflect the perspectives and needs voiced by the community. The successful candidate must, therefore, be one who comes closest to meeting these priority characteristics:

1. Demonstrates sound knowledge and appreciation of Thunder Bay as the regional hub of Northwestern Ontario.

2. Possesses a critical understanding of the importance of social determinants of community safety and well-being, such as poverty, homelessness, mental health, and racism.

3. Embraces, supports, promotes, and works to ensure strong and effective civilian governance.

Apply Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) lens to the selection process
Consult with community, including First Nations groups, Thunder Bay Police Association and Thunder Bay Senior Officers Association, in developing selection criteria that incorporate cultural competence

Consult with, seek input from and participation of Fort William First Nation, Anishinabek Nation, Nishnawbe-Aski Nation, Matawa First Nations, Grand Council Treaty #3 in the selection committee and process

Conduct outreach to attract candidates from First Nations and other backgrounds. For example, reach out to the First Nations Police Governance Council and First Nations Chiefs of Police Association

Give preference to selecting a Chief who is Indigenous, or, alternatively, from a racialized background, who possesses demonstrated police leadership experience and meets the attributes required below.

4. Understands the presence and role of the region’s First Nations governments, and their relationship to Thunder Bay’s municipal government.

5. Demonstrates willingness to build formal relations and develop a shared service delivery model with the region’s First Nations police services, as a priority.

6. Demonstrates commitment to innovation in service delivery, including use of uniform and civilian personnel with a variety of knowledge, skills, and expertise, and building partnerships with Indigenous and non-Indigenous community-based service providers.

7. Demonstrates leadership qualities, experience in leading organizational change, effective communication, active listening, successful relationship/team building and accountability.

8. Possesses a proven track record in effective leadership in policing.

9. Understands and is committed to implementing a trauma-informed approach to the care of members of the Thunder Bay Police Service and delivery of policing services to the community.

10. Demonstrates commitment to promoting and upholding the principles of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI), Anti-Racism and Human Rights.

11. Is committed to implementing Indigenous principles of justice, specifically, restorative justice, generally and, in particular, when dealing with Indigenous peoples.

12. Demonstrates ability and willingness to advocate vigorously with municipal, provincial, and federal governments for targeted funding to implement recommendations in this and past reports regarding TBPS and the Board”.

Police Services Board Chair

The Independent Expert Panel says that the Chair of the Police Services Board should be a paid full time position. The salary should be that of a city councillor or what has been determined by discussion with the city.

Further, the Chair and Vice Chair should remain in their role for five years. This will increase continuity and stability for the board.

The Police Services Board should also establish a policy that the Chair be a citizen member to recognize the Police Services Board’s status as an independent entity from the Municipality of Thunder Bay and to ensure the Board’s concerns and business receive the chair’s undivided attention.

Read the Full Report

Interim Report TBPSB Final V3 by james1572 on Scribd