AuthorKent Roach
| 173
We have known since the s that Canadian public police are failing
Indigenous people by both overpolicing and underprotecting them. As
argued in Chapter , we now know that such a vicious circle aects many
other, sometimes intersecting, disadvantaged groups. is vicious circle
reects systemic discrimination, stereotypes, and growing inequality.
Over the last thirty years, we have responded to (increasingly videoed)
acts of police misconduct with a growing array of aer-the-fact accountability
mechanisms. e result is that police ocers can face “quadruple jeopardy”
when accused of misconduct. at may be the price that must be paid for
maintaining the rule of law. Nevertheless, as argued in Chapter , such expen-
sive and legalistic measures have not improved policing or even prevented
repetitive acts of misconduct. Lawyers seem to have proted more from the
police accountability industry than the public and the disadvantaged. Exces-
sive reliance on aer-the-fact accountability can also cause the police “to abdi-
cate their own responsibility to self-regulate conduct and maintain public
trust and condence. is set of aairs has been aggravated by the under-
goverance of police conduct by multiple levels of government as explained in
Chapter  and as was clearly demonstrated during the February  “Free-
dom” occupations and blockades.
Demands to defund the police in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and
events in Canada in June  have been rejected, even though the Harper
Conservative government in  had issued evidence-based warnings that
expanding police budgets were not sustainable. Ontario premier, Doug Ford,
174 | Canadian PoliCing: Why and hoW it Must Change
was quick to dismiss defunding demands even while his province required
communities to prepare community safety and well-being plans that rightly
recognized the need for police to work with other public and community
agencies that have been underfunded compared to the police.
President Barack Obama warned that while “defund the police” may be a
“snappy” slogan, it could alienate and even scare many. He recognized the cen-
trality of politics to reform when he stated: “e key is deciding, do you want
to actually get something done, or do you want to feel good among the people
you already agree with?” In other words, can the necessary constituencies and
political will be cobbled together to achieve fundamental change in policing ?
ose who want fundamental change in Canadian policing should not be shy
about combining arguments about cost-eectiveness with arguments about
the need for less violent, less discriminatory, and, ultimately, more eective
Reform coalitions must include representatives of communities that are
both overpoliced and underprotected. e Rethinking Community Safety
report released in early  and approved by more than twenty community
groups in Toronto, including Black Lives Matter, is a good place to start.
Community groups and Indigenous people not the police — are the
experts at doing more with less. As discussed in Chapter , this impressive
report demonstrates what could have been done with a proposed  percent
cut to the Toronto police budget that was defeated by a : vote in the
Toronto’s shrunken City council. e twenty-four-page report outperforms
Toronto’s uninspired S a f eTO community safety plan with concrete proposals
backed by research to justify taking tasks from the police in relation to mental
health and the unhoused and transferring them to others who are unarmed,
more expert, and less expensive. It pragmatically argues that such a response
would be more cost-eective and less violent and discriminatory.
Transferring functions from the police to other public and community
agencies must be done properly and must be evaluated. It would be naïve
and dangerous to assume that child, youth, housing, educational, and health
authorities may not have their own failures, including systemic discrimination.
As one police respondent told researchers, it is dicult “to download certain

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