While accountability has fallen on City Hall like a light snow hard to measure by the minute, but demonstrable by morning its progress up Bay Street to police headquarters has been glacial.
There have been encouraging signs: the framework for a new complaints body, public consultations prior to the hiring of Chief Bill Blair, the sexual assault audit steering committee, a partnership with mental health workers, name tags for officers, and more "minority" recruits.
And last week (January 25), at the Police Services Board, members responded amenably to the report of city auditor Jeffrey Griffiths calling for an urgent overhaul of police training.
But progress on a complaints regime has stalled. Tasers have been anointed as the tool for dealing with emotional crisis calls. And a diverse range of officers means little if the force's skill range is stunted.
According to Griffiths's Review Of Police Training, things are grim owing to the fact that "no one person is familiar with [or] has responsibility for... training."
There is no attempt to track effectiveness; teaching officers do not have to be certified; officers coaching recruits continue to do so even if complaints against them are upheld; "minimal work is being done to ensure [officers are] in compliance with [internal] policies"; mandatory use-of-force training is not enforced.
The board celebrated completion of the report as a means to greater accountability, especially in financial matters. And Blair said exactly what he should: "We do hear these recommendations as an opportunity for improvement."
Now, where have we heard that before? No one commented on Griffiths finding little progress on recommendations from his 2005 report, which itself chided the force for making no progress after 1999's blistering indictment of the handling of sexual assault cases.
Beverley Bain and Jane Doe of the sexual assault audit steering committee formed in 2005 told the board that there was not enough about the content of training in the report.
"We've found an absence of gendered analysis pertaining to sexual assault," stated Bain, adding that there's no attempt to understand the differing realities of women from ethnic communities.
Chair Alok Mukherjee thanked them for a "nice follow-up," and the board moved on.
Bain told me afterward that racial and gender stereotypes abound in police training: rapists are usually portrayed as black men; immigrant women's fear of police is explained as acceptance of sexual assault.
And a later discussion with Staff Sergeant Sandy O'Grady, who conducts human relations training, reveals that the force knows there's an issue. She says her section, formed in 2004 under Keith Forde's superintendency, has "done a lot on racial profiling, power and privilege, looking at those issues, ethical behaviour and whatnot."
She sees the problem primarily as one of "role over-identification." "We all know the cowboy cop," she says.
In training, she says, they do "association tests" in which officers associate genders with names and occupations, then examine underlying feelings and stereotypes. As well, "joint LGBTT" training with community groups "explores attitudes and behaviours" about transgendered folk in particular. "We have several communities [in the city] that have felt mistreated," she says.
An entire training section, she says, is now devoted to officers talking about their own feelings. "The wheels of change turn slowly," says O'Grady. "We can't change people's attitudes; we can change behaviours."
But Dudley Laws, director of the Black Action Defense Committee, is doubtful. "I'm not convinced enough is being done to change the attitude of police on the beat," he says. "Gradually now we're seeing a return of the things we saw in the late 1970s and early 1980s," when police shootings of unarmed youth of colour were common.
He says greater diversity on the force is meaningless if they are "consumed by police culture," and that no amount of training will make a difference if police don't feel accountable.
"There is nowhere for people to go to say, "Look, this is what happened to me,'" he says. "If police officers know you have a real way to lay complaints, there could be change."
In a scrum following the meeting, Chief Blair was quick to remind reporters that Griffiths didn't take issue with the quality of training. I pointed out that members of a steering committee that grew out of Griffiths's previous report did just that.
"That's not to say it isn't excellent," replied Blair, "only that it could be even better." Next question. Translation: We're awesome, but we could be awesomer.
At least he smiled when he said it. Fantino wouldn't have.