Windsor·Video

How has Windsor police, city changed under Chief Al Frederick?

Al Frederick became Windsor's chief of police with a promise to restore public trust and clean up a service facing serious allegations of officer misconduct. As he gets set to retire after seven years as the city's top cop, CBC News is taking a look at what's changed under his watch.

Chief Al Frederick retiring after being tasked to clean up Windsor Police Service

Al Frederick has been a police officer for 35 years and is set to retire as Windsor's police chief at the end of June. (Windsor Police Service)

Al Frederick became Windsor's chief of police with a promise to restore public trust and clean up a service facing serious allegations of officer misconduct. As he gets set to retire after seven years as the city's top cop, CBC News is taking a look at what's changed under his watch.

First, let's start with crime statistics — has Windsor become any safer during Frederick's tenure?

Overall, the level of crime has remained fairly steady. Based on data provided by Windsor police through 2017, there's been a drop in crimes against people and a slight increase in property-related offences. However, it should also be noted there was a spike in 2018 with 11 homicides.

SIU called more often

One of Frederick's early promises was to be more transparent with the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) — the province's police watchdog, which invokes its mandate anytime a civilian is seriously injured during an interaction with an officer. In 2012, Windsor police said there was an 800 per cent increase in the number of calls made to the SIU.

The number of actual SIU investigations of Windsor police peaked in 2017 with 18 investigations into Windsor officers.  That number dropped to seven cases in 2018.

While a couple of the cases from 2018 are ongoing, none have resulted in charges being laid against police.

Frederick has been with Windsor police since 1984. He became interim chief in 2011 and was named permanent chief in 2012.

His appointment came at a time when the police service was facing serious allegations of officer misconduct involving several high profile cases.

 

When asked by reporters recently about his legacy and what he's most proud of, Frederick said "we've made great strides in becoming a transparent and accountable organization."

As acting chief in 2011, he set his sights on improving public trust and introduced Project Accountability. The plan included enhanced ethics training, the creation of a conflict of interest policy, a more clearly-defined policy on contacting the SIU and a "commitment to transparency and openness through media and other means," among other things.

Windsor police chief Al Frederick talks about his time as the city's top cop. 0:59

It "really elevated our professionalism at the end of the day, and our response, and our ability to respond," Frederick told reporters.

Human Rights Project

Another milestone in Frederick's career was his role in the creation of the Human Rights Project. It was launched in 2011, and released publicly in 2014. The project's main goals were to identify and eliminate discrimination both within the force and in its interactions with the public, and to make the workforce more reflective and representative of the diversity of the City of Windsor.

In May, CBC News reported on the rate of human rights complaints filed by Windsor officers. Between 2008 and 2018, Windsor had more complaints per capita than most municipal forces in Ontario. Only four police services had more more complaints.

However, York University public policy professor Lorne Foster said he would have expected an uptick in internal complaints following the release of the Human Rights Project.

"The institution of a rights framework like the WPS Human Rights Program initially increases the rights-sensitivity of officers more on the employment side than on the service delivery side," said Foster. "Consequently, there is likely a greater understanding of right issues, and so, willingness to access compliance processes."

Windsor police still mostly white men

Despite public pronouncements that he was trying to make the police force more diverse, there has been minimal progress in racial diversity or gender balance during Frederick's tenure.

There aren't many high-ranking female police officers — only two at the rank of inspector and above. Recent internal census numbers paint a picture of a mostly white, mostly male police force. 

  • 81.7 per cent of sworn officers are male, based on 2018 internal census (compared to 83.1 per cent in 2012)
  • 82.6 per cent of sworn officers are white, based on 2018 internal census (compared to 84.8 per cent in 2012)

Inspector Tammy Fryer is the second highest-ranking female Windsor police officer, behind Deputy Chief Pam Mizuno. Fryer told CBC News her climb up the ladder "hasn't been all fun and games, there's been some times of struggle."

However, Fryer said "[Frederick] supports inclusivity in an organization."

Windsor police Inspector Tammy Fryer talks about issues for female officers and how policing is changing. 1:22

Low number of female officers

Approximately 16 per cent of Windsor police officers are women and that hasn't improved significantly in the last 15 years. That's among the lowest rates in Canada. There are only three municipal police forces in the country, representing populations of 100,000 or more, with a lower proportion of women in uniform, according to Statistics Canada.

Fryer says women need to be encouraged at the rank of constable to aspire to be promoted. 

"We need to be able to have open dialogue and be frank about our career experiences. It's not always been an easy go," she said.

"What did it for me to get where I'm at? What did it take for Deputy Chief [Pam] Mizuno to get where she is at? Those are important conversations to be had and lessons to be learned for females that are aspiring to become involved in this line of work."

There's also a current human rights complaint case against the Windsor Police Service by a female officer, Christine Bissonnette, who claims gender discrimination in the promotion process.

Next chief?

As for who will take over for Frederick, that announcement is expected to happen before July 1.

Windsor police have never had a female chief. Sources tell CBC News that Pam Mizuno is considered a strong candidate for the job. She's the first female deputy in the history of the force.

CBC News requested a one-on-one interview with Al Frederick to talk about his time as Windsor's top cop. It was turned down. A request to interview the police service's diversity officer was also denied.

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