Haldimand Police Service Board: Did they fail us?

by Gary McHale - The Regional

June 2, 2010

Within our system of democracy we have built in safeguards to ensure oversight of police services throughout Ontario. Over the past few weeks we have reviewed how the British system established the Mayor as a peace officer who is duty bound to help end any riots that may occur. While all Mayors in Canada are both politicians and peace officers, the primary oversight of police services falls on the shoulders of the local Police Service Board. In Haldimand County this board consists of Mayor Trainer, Councillor Boyko, two provincial appointees and a member from Haldimand county appointed by Council.

Police Service Boards are the governing authority and are required to ensure that Police Services adhere to the following declaration of principles contained in Section 1 of the Police Services Act:

"1) The need to ensure the safety and security of all persons and property in Ontario.

2) The importance of safeguarding the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Human Rights Code.

3) The need for co-operation between the providers of police service and the communities they serve.

4) The importance of respect for victims of crime and understanding of their needs.

5) The need for sensitivity to the pluralistic, multiracial and multicultural character of Ontario society.

6) The need to ensure that police forces are representative of the communities they serve."

Regarding the Charter of Rights and Freedoms section 15(1) states, "Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability."

How did the Haldimand Police Service Board ensure that every individual had Equal Protection and Equal Benefit of the Law? What did the Board do to ensure this was true for the people living on 6th Line who didn't have any real policing for almost 4 years? How did the Board ensure people like Dave Brown, Dana Chatwell and Sam Gaultieri were equally protected by the OPP? Has any member of the Board spoken with these victims, out of respect for the victims, to see what the Board needs to do to ensure the Charter is upheld in Haldimand County?

Furthermore according to the Police Services Act the board’s duties include the following:

- generally determine, after consultation with the Chief of Police, objectives and priorities with respect to police services in the municipality;

- establish policies for the effective management of the police force;

- direct the Chief of Police and monitor his or her performance;

- establish guidelines for dealing with complaints;

- review the Chief of Police’s administration of the complaints system and receive regular reports from the Chief of Police on the administration of the complaint system.

When the OPP are providing the policing service then the Chief of Police is the local detachment commander. The Haldimand Police Board had a duty to direct the local OPP Inspector and monitor his performance. They were also duty bound to receive regular reports on police complaints and to ensure they were being dealt with.

Section 4 of the Police Services Act states, “Every municipality shall provide adequate and effective police services... and must include, at a minimum, all of the following police services: 1) Crime prevention; 2) Law enforcement; 3) Assistance to victims of crime; 4) Public order maintenance; 5) Emergency response.”

You will notice peacekeeping isn’t listed. Contrary to repeated statements by Commissioner Fantino the word peacekeeping doesn’t exist in the Police Services Act. Officers are duty bound to prevent crimes, enforce laws and assist victims. The minimum standard of adequate and effective police services includes these fundamental principles. How exactly was that done when OPP officers repeatedly stood by and watched people being victimized?

Maintaining public order may be seen as some sort of peacekeeping mission however, all five elements are required minimums for police services. There is no such thing as a peacekeeping mission that doesn't prevent crimes or fails to enforce the law.

Section 42(1) of the Police Services Act lists the duties of a police officer including; "(a) preserving the peace; (b) preventing crimes and other offences and providing assistance and encouragement to other persons in their prevention; (c) assisting victims of crime; (d) apprehending criminals and other offenders and others who may lawfully be taken into custody; (e) laying charges and participating in prosecutions;..."

The Brown/Chatwell lawsuit Statement of Claim included the following, "Haldimand County further has a duty to provide that the highways that are within its jurisdiction are free of nuisances and to provide adequate and effective police services to prevent crime and enforce the law. This duty was delegated by Haldimand County to the O.P.P. pursuant to the Haldimand Police Services Agreement."

The Caledonia Class Action lawsuit Statement of Claim also includes the follow, "It is pleaded that Haldimand County did not provide adequate and effective police services in accordance with the Police Services Act and the failure on the part of Haldimand County to provide adequate and effective police services led to various criminal acts and breaches of the law."

Within all democratic systems there are checks and balances in places to ensure that no one person, agency or government is able to subvert the Rule of Law or the course of justice. While it is easy to blame the McGuinty Government, the Federal Government, the OPP or the native protesters, it is also clear that the breakdown of Law and Order in Haldimand occurred, in part, because those entrusted to manage the checks and balances refused to do their duty.

The Mayor did not exercise her authority under the criminal code in order to bring an end to weeks of rioting. The Haldimand Police Service Board failed to hold the OPP accountable for their refusal to provide minimum service which included crime prevention, law enforcement and assisting the victims of crime.

What we have seen for four years is how everyone passed the buck and blamed everyone else while refusing to do their own duty.

Meanwhile average people had to pay the price for their failures.