Policing: Old cops, new expectations

Counter-terrorism, fighting cybercrime, policing highly diverse societies: Can the police do it all? Should the police do it all? Do the police want to do it all? An Ideas/Munk School of Global Affairs discussion on the implications, the challenges and the trade-offs for the police, for justice and for all of us.
(Lars Hagberg/AFP/Getty Images)

In this two-part series, IDEAS, CBC RADIO ONE in partnership with the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, considers what it means to police and be policed in these complex and anxious times.

Counter-terrorism, fighting cybercrime, policing highly diverse societies: Can the police do it all?  Should the police do it all? Do the police want to do it all? Cal Corley, CEO of the Community Safety Knowledge Alliance, and former Assistant Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police; Inspector Shawna Coxon, Toronto Police Service; Micheal Vonn, Policy Director, B.C. Civil Liberties Association; and moderator Ron Levi, Director of the Munk School's Global Justice Lab, weigh the implications, the challenges and the trade-offs for the police, for justice and for all of us. 

The panel was recorded in front of an audience at the Munk School of Global Affairs on May 16, 2017. Listen to the Question and Answer session which followed the discussion.

Left to right: Cal Corley, Micheal Vonn, Inspector Shawna Coxon & Ron Levi. (Lisa Sakulensky)


"I spent over thirty-five years with the RCMP, with time spent at the Privy Council Office and  Public Safety Canada, so that gave me a perspective, I think, on some of the issues that we're dealing with. And I think over the years, I've spent a lot of time concerned about the capacity of police organizations, and more broadly the community safety well-being system, to adapt and respond to the rapidly evolving  operating landscape that all this happens in." -- Cal Corley

Cal Corley
Cal Corley is the CEO of the Community Safety Knowledge Alliance (CKSA), a non-profit research and knowledge development centre that supports governments and the community safety sector in their drive for improved community safety and wellbeing. Cal is a former Assistant Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. During his career, he gained extensive experience in both operations and management, serving in such areas as national security, criminal intelligence, drug enforcement, human resources, and leading reform initiatives. He also served at the Privy Council Office and at Public Safety Canada. From 2008 – 2014, he was head of the Canadian Police College, during which time he also served as the RCMP Senior Envoy to Mexico and the Americas.

"Society, both here in Canada, as well as globally, is changing rapidly.  And, policing has a very important role to play , not just with respect to community safety, but also in the nature of our democracy and what that looks like. And really, this is about relationships and what we want the future of Canada to look like." 
-- Inspector Shawna Coxon

Inspector Shawna Coxon
Serving for more than two decades with the Toronto Police Service, Inspector Shawna Coxon has had a diverse career in uniform, community, intelligence, and investigative policing. Having just released 'The Way Forward' as a member of the Transformational Task Force, she has started an Organizational Change Management Team (a novel endeavour in Canadian policing). Prior to that, she was the second in charge of Intelligence Services where she implemented the inaugural Computer Cyber Crime Section. Inspector Coxon has a PhD in Criminal Law and her areas of research include criminal law and technology. She is a published academic who has lectured internationally. She has won numerous awards; however she is most proud of the letters of appreciation from victims she has worked diligently for.

"The national security state is the biggest threat to democracy that I know of. We formulated our whole notion of what constitutes human rights out of the crucible of some of the most devastating human rights catastrophes of the 20th Century. And to hear the rhetoric of needing to, quote/unquote, "rebalance" those rights in the name of safety in the 21st Century, is simply something that needs to be opposed."-- Micheal Vonn
Michael Vonn
Micheal Vonn is a lawyer and has been the Policy Director of the BCCLA since 2004. She has been an Adjunct Professor at the University of British Columbia in the Faculty of Law and in the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies where she has taught civil liberties and information ethics. She's also a regular guest instructor for UBC's College of Health Disciplines Interdisciplinary Elective in HIV/AIDS Care. Ms Vonn's been honoured for her work in HIV/AIDS with both an AccolAIDS Award and a Red Ribbon Award, and she is the recipient of the 2015 Keith Sacré Library Champion Award. She's currently a collaborator on Big Data Surveillance, a multi-year research projected lead by Queens University. She's an Advisory Board Member of Ryerson University's Centre for Free Expression and an Advisory Board Member of Privacy International.

Moderator Ron Levi:

"Today, police departments - around the world - are doing counter-terrorism. And in some places, police are being moved from one type of crime -- say, gangs or organized crime, to work on counter-terrorism instead. Actually, sometimes they're working in "counter-terrorism." Other times, it's CVE: "countering violent extremism." Those are not the same thing. And some police forces, including Toronto's, also refer people to  "De-radicalization Programs." I think that all this matters. It says something about how we're dealing with terrorism itself: what we think it is; and who we think is best equipped  to respond to it. And, prevent it. But if the police do more and more of this work, will it fundamentally change who they are? And, who they think they are? And what about our perception of the Police? Will we stop seeing them as neighbourhood cops,  and start seeing them  as The Military: all weaponed up to combat terrorism. And, when you think about it, do we actually  need cops to focus on counter-terrorism here in Canada? Remember: we're not Europe. And we're not the U.S. So, to my colleagues on the pane, why should the police in Canada be in the business of counter-terrorism, anyway?" -- Professor Ron Levi

Ron Levi
Professor Ron Levi holds the George Ignatieff Chair of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Toronto.  He's Director of the Global Justice Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, and an Associate Professor of Global Affairs and Sociology. Professor Levi is a sociologist and legal scholar, whose research focuses on the legal and political dimensions of justice system responses to violence, crime, and human rights violations. He's a past Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. He launched a Global Justice Lab at the Munk School, and was awarded the University of Toronto's Ludwik and Estelle Jus Memorial Human Rights Prize. He holds an appointment as Permanent Visiting Professor in the University of Copenhagen's Centre of Excellence for International Courts.

Further reading, suggestions from program participants: 

From Cal Corley:

  • Future Crimes: Everything is connected, everyone is vulnerable and what we can do about it by Marc Goodman, Doubleday Canada, 2015.
  • "Securitizing" Canadian Policing: A New Policing Paradigm for the Post 9/11 Security State? Christopher Murphy, Canadian Journal of Sociology, December 2007, pp. 449 – 475.
  • Policing Canada in the 21st Century: New Policing for New Challenges - Expert Panel on the Future of Canadian Policing Models. Council of Canadian Academies, 2014. 
  • Police Reform: Who done it?  Policing & Society, 18:1, David H. Bayley,  March 2008, pp. 7–17.
  • Why Reforms Fail, Policing and Society, 18:1, Wesley G. Skogan, March 2008, pp. 23-34.

From Inspector Shawna Coxon: 

  • The Way Forward. An new action plan, defined by the Toronto Police Service, as the path forward to excellence for the Service.

From Ron Levi:

From Micheal Vonn: 

  • National Security blog on the BCCLA website which includes accessible analyses of the main topics of the first-ever Canadian national security consultation.
  • False Security: The Radicalization of Canadian Anti-terrorism, by Craig Forcese and Kent Roach (2015, Irwin Law), for a comprehensive understanding of how our new national security laws are failing to make us safer and imperiling our rights.
  • National Security Law blog by Craig Forcese, which includes terrific in-a-nutshell podcasts on subjects like national security accountability and terrorist offences.     
  • Schneier on Security blog x, for understanding security there is simply no better `go-to` than Bruce Schneier. 

The Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto  brings together the best minds to advance the latest thinking on  global issues. Its mission is to integrate research on global affairs with teaching and public education.

**This episode was produced by Sara Wolch.


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