Police Act reform needs to include Windsor concerns, chief says

Windsor’s police chief does not want the city to be forgotten in public consultations on changes to the Police Services Act.

Windsor will be included in regional consultation process, province confirms

Windsor police Chief Al Frederick says he would welcome hosting public consultations in Windsor on revisions to the Police Services Act. (CBC)

Windsor police Chief Al Frederick wants the provincial government to know communities like Windsor have different policing needs than communities within the Greater Toronto Area.

He has a list of priorities to share with the Ministry of Correctional Services and Community Safety as it prepares to rewrite the Police Services Act.

Ministry officials are touring Ontario in the coming weeks, seeking input about the best ways to improve legislation that governs how police operate. 

In addition to ensuring Windsor has a say in any of the changes, Frederick also fears the province is trying to do too much all at once during the latest review.

"They need to hear the different positions on the same issue in order to represent all of our interests," Frederick said. "Right now, they seem to have preconceived ideas, just from what I'm reading, about what needs to be done."

Windsor solution

Frederick has three main areas he wants to reform — homelessness, addiction and mental health — though he's concerned the province may be trying to do too much, too fast.

"If they are able to make changes to some of those areas like homelessness and addictions, I think that's critical," Frederick said. "These are not criminal issues and police have been saying forever that we need help in addressing those issues in our communities."

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens, who is chairman of the Police Services Board, said he does not want to see solutions that work for Toronto brought down to Windsor without consultation.

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens says carding is an example of a police tool that works differently in Toronto and Windsor. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

He pointed to the practice of street checks as one example.

"Their whole system in Toronto was different," Dilkens said. "We think there are actually good and valid operational considerations that need to be thought through before they change the legislation that has wide-sweeping impacts for municipalities across the province."  

Dilkens stresses three issues he'd like to have addressed in this rewrite: street checks, suspension without pay and mental health.

Thorough review

Windsor is not on the list of sites where public consultations will be held, but ministry officials confirmed Tuesday consultations with safety partners will be held in Windsor on March 17.

The act that governs practices, such as how officers engage with people who are vulnerable and how police services should be accountable and transparent to the public, is due for an upgrade, according to Yasir Naqvi, Ontario's correctional services and community safety minister. 

"The world has changed fundamentally in the past 25 years and so has policing," he wrote in a paper about the reform effort. "It is time for a new approach and a new strategy for community safety and well-being in the 21st century so we can create even stronger communities and give police the tools to build an even safer Ontario."

Even with his concerns, Frederick said he remains hopeful the reforms can be brought in.

"These are the types of things where I think there should be a focus and a resolution because all communities are dealing with these issues," he said. "These people need support, not police interaction."


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