May 17, 2018
Toronto Police Services Board
40 College Street
Toronto, ON M5G 2J3
Dear Chair Pringle:
Re: Independent External Review into Systemic Concerns Related to Missing Persons Investigations
We are writing to support the unanimous decision of the Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB) to begin working towards an external review into systemic concerns related to missing persons investigations. In response to community and internal concerns the TPSB appointed a working group to identify the best possible form of such a review and possible terms of reference, including an examination of practices and actions related to past missing persons investigations, policies around investigations into missing persons, reviewing best practices at other services, and looking at issues of possible systemic bias against people related to protected grounds of the Ontario Human Rights Code.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission also takes these concerns seriously. Like much of the systemic discrimination in the criminal justice system, failure to properly investigate and prosecute offences likely begins with an overreliance, whether consciously or unconsciously, on damaging stereotypes. Over the years, the OHRC has been involved in a number of human rights cases involving policing of the LGBTQ2S+ community, including the 2016 settlement in the matter Waterman v. Toronto Police Services Board.
To rebuild trust with the LGBTQ2S+ community it is vitally important for this investigation to critically examine all systemic concerns. Such an examination must acknowledge the historical context of the community’s eroded public trust in the Toronto Police Service (TPS).
We support the position presented at the March 22, 2018 TPSB meeting by the Alliance for South Asian Aids Prevention in conjunction with many other community organizations and community leaders. Their deputation specified that the review process must include a direct role for the community at every stage. This role is one that exceeds mere consultation and would involve community playing an active role in shaping how their concerns are addressed, including on a technical level. We also support the call for a review of any prior TPS investigation into missing persons to inform the systemic analysis. Finally, we agree that the TPSB should commission the review. We also believe that to be effective, the review must be independent of both the TPS and TPSB.
We look forward to the results and are available if the external reviewer would like to consult with us.
Yours very truly,
Renu Mandhane, B.A., J.D., LL.M.
Ontario Human Rights Commission
cc: Mark Saunders, Chief of the Toronto Police Service
Ken Jeffers, Member, Working Group
Shakir Rahim, Member, Working Group
Monica Forrester, Member, Working Group
Sara Mainville, Member, Working Group