Beyond the Badge: Windsor Police improve accountability
Mayor says statistics prove there has been progress
The Windsor Police Service has been under public scrutiny after high-profile police misconduct investigations over the past 10 months, but Mayor Eddie Francis said project accountability is already showing positive results.
"In the past if there was an incident it was just ruled as an incident and it would be dealt with and everyone would move on," said Francis, who also chairs the police service board.
Now, Francis said everyone from rank and file to the chief is taking ownership in restoring the public's faith in the service.
CBC Windsor will host its Beyond the Badge town hall Wed., Oct. 24 at the Capitol Theatre.
Tweet us questions for Windsor Police Chief Al Frederick: @CBCWindsor #AskWindsorPolice and we'll pose them at the event.
"It was refreshing to hear the senior command speak of the fact that the entire organization believes that they own the accountability and that they have the responsibility to ensure that accountability is implemented throughout the entire organization," said Francis.
Project Accountability was created after former chief Gary Smith retired in December, 2011 and Al Frederick was ushered in to lead the force.
"Change is taking place and I think there is a lot of momentum that has been achieved," said Francis.
The use of force by Windsor Police officers has decreased 60 per cent since January, Francis said.
Reports of assaulting police and resisting arrest have declined 71 per cent from the five-year average.
Police misconduct complaints down 35%
Francis also said Windsor Police conduct complaints have dropped 35 per cent.
"We are the only organization in the Province of Ontario that picks up the phone and calls the SIU (Special Investigations Unit) on everything," said Francis.
There’s been an 800 per cent increase in the number of calls made to the SIU from the Windsor Police.
"Even though there’s been an increase, the SIU invoking [its] mandate has relatively remained consistent of about five per year," said Francis.
But not everyone is happy with the new face of the Windsor Police force.
"The [Windsor Police] Association obviously is not happy with the direction that we’re going in, that’s understandable," said Francis. "They don’t like the fact that we’ve introduced the change, they don’t like the fact that we’ve made certain decisions. At the end of the day we are responsible for the community."
The number one public complaint about officer misconduct, according to Francis, is the fact that officers are suspended with pay while the investigation is underway.
He said the Police Services Act is an "outdated piece of legislation that really needs to be looked at and reworked."
"There are many high-profile cases across the province where you can see officers who are suspended, prolong whatever defence they may have and then ultimately resign the very last day," said Francis.
"Is there a way to rework that part of the legislation that makes sure you project the officers against frivolous complaints [at the same time] being able to deal with the valid complaints without having the system or the rules or the loopholes stretched out."
Francis admits officer misconduct will likely happen again in Windsor, but the organization will be judged on how they respond to the controversy.
"If you compare us to any other police service in the Province of Ontario I think we’re ahead of the curve when it comes to some of the measures that are being implemented."