Jim Ramer

Jim Ramer spoke 15 times across 1 day of testimony.

  1. Jim Ramer, Chief (Toronto Police Service)

    Good morning. Let me first thank you, Mr. Commissioner, for inviting me to participate in this very important exercise. I’m a lifelong practitioner, having devoted my working life to policing, public safety, and crime prevention. I hope that I can provide some insight into how theory is applied. The title of this session is Police/Government Relations. The essence of the discussions is how do we construct and reinforce public institutions that preserve or promote democracy? I firmly believe that democracy is more than just voting. Many institutions promote democracy and the balancing of rights. Some institutions, however, can promote democracy or detract from it, depending on how they are administered. Policing is one such institution. In my view, we must be careful to avoid adopting strategies at remedying a particular problem that tend to undermine a system that, generally speaking, works well in this province and across Canada. A system of policing that is independent of political interference is a system to be protected and nurtured is a key aspect of democracy and must, of course, be accountable to the people, and the leadership must be responsive to the people and ensure that the rule of law is maintained. The police cannot be seen as a tool to be used by any particular government, but must be seen to be operating on the basis of democratic principles. The leadership in policing need to be experienced, trained, empathetic, and humble in order to be effective. Long ago, in response to political interference in Toronto, born of divisions transplanted from abroad, the Provincial Government created a police commission designed to protect the police service from actual and perceived interference. That system has evolved into the police services board system we have today. That system has evolved and matured to ensure that politics does not intrude into operations, but that the direction of policing is responsive to the legitimate needs and expectations of the people. I am of the view that while I accept there is room for improvement in the system we have developed in Toronto, we are currently positioned as well as we ever have been to ensure responsive, accountable, and independent policing for the people who depend on us. The Service embraces the role of the Board. We do all we can to ensure they have the information and assistance they need from us to fulfil their role, which is often stated to be ensuring adequate and effective policing. I’m sure Mr. Teschner will unpack that concept through the course of our time together, but for me, it includes providing the Service with policy direction that informs our operations. It is a relationship that recognizes that the Board can and should collaborate with the service, and can do so in a way that augments its oversight ability and does not detract from it. The Service has also matured, and we realize that the Board can provide unique civilian perspectives that actually enhance our operations. So we have policy and operational discussions frequently, and each of us are the better for it. However, a key to those discussions is that we each honour the other’s roles. The Board also plays a key role for the police in being a contact point with government. The Board is, in that respect, another key democratic institution. The Board allows the government to learn of some aspects of policing, and even questions operations with the Board. Thus, the government will not be seen as directing operations or attempting to do so. The Board also assists in resourcing in concert with the Service and assists the Service in speaking to government in terms of powers and authorities that would assist the police in carrying out their duties. That encapsulates my view on police/government relations and I look forward, as well, to today’s discussion. Thank you.


  2. Jim Ramer, Chief (Toronto Police Service)

    Yes, sorry, just one quick comment. What I would say is that police know and have training and expertise to execute law enforcement functions. But what we do is made more legitimate when it has the benefit of independent oversight that’s framing what we do. And I think that’s the essential read


  3. Jim Ramer, Chief (Toronto Police Service)

    What I would say to you is when I was appointed Chief in August of 2020, one of the things I instituted was a morning brief to the Executive Director and the Chair of the Board to give them an idea of what was happening overnight and what we, as a police organization and the City were being confronted with. And then, of course, when you had a priority incident occur during the City, I would give them an immediate briefing as to what was transpiring on the ground and what we were doing about it and keep them apprised, just so that they were aware of what was going on. I found that it was an essential part of that information sharing, so that the Board had an appreciation of what we were doing, what our capacity was, where our weaknesses were, what our resource issues were. These are all important things for the Board to understand, because it was important in terms that they oversaw budget recommendations, you know, guidance, policy, and direction, and they had to be involved so that anything that they decided to implement was what was going to be the operational effect of those decisions? So they had to be done in collaboration, and they had to be done with the knowledge of actually what we were being faced with as an organization. So I just wanted to add that point in, and to the importance of it. And I -- with respect to, you know, how can requests for information be distinguished from direction? And I think there’s always an opportunity where the lines are going to be blurred there. You know, when you look at the danger of actual or perceived direction from government to the police. But that’s the origin of commissions and police boards, and that’s why we need them.


  4. Jim Ramer, Chief (Toronto Police Service)



  5. Jim Ramer, Chief (Toronto Police Service)

    You know, quite frankly, no. I mean, there’s things like informant privilege that we do, any type of, you know, secret operations that we’ll have going on, we don’t discuss. We might discuss them after they’re done and talk about some success. But not while they’re undergoing, not while they’re occurring. But other than that, as far as I’m concerned, there’s an oath of secrecy and the Board cannot perform an effective oversight function if they don’t understand what we’re doing. Many of them, it was mentioned earlier by the Professor, they are not police professionals, in some cases we have lawyers, and then you’ll have city councillors and people selected, like social workers selected from -- by government to be on the Board. But we have to inform them so they have an understanding. And without that information coming into them, it makes it very, very difficult for them to do their job. And then conversely, as I think one of my colleagues mentioned earlier, one of the benefits is that when we’re having these discussions, and my team is letting them know what we’re going to do, and by the way, we’re letting them know that this is going to cost several millions of dollars, so you need to be aware of this, they’re also making, sometimes, suggestions, “How about, are you communicating with City Councillors so they’ve got an understanding of what’s going on? They could become helpful to this discussion to the City.” You know, that’s a good idea. And so we then got on and we made sure that we communicated with every City Councillor and gave them a little bit of a briefing of what was going to happen over the next couple of days. So that collaboration has benefits. It makes us much more successful in what we do.


  6. Jim Ramer, Chief (Toronto Police Service)

    I think when it comes to collaboration, there should be informal as well as formal avenues to secure collaboration. The formal ones should be available when the informal ones, frankly, are not working. I find that we work very effectively in collaboration with our other police services. When -- you know, if you look at the Freedom Convoy in Toronto, during the course of that entire event, we created public order hubs throughout the province because we knew, you know, the participants had information and they were being very strategic in how they deployed. So they were in Ottawa, they were in Windsor, they were in Toronto. There's a reason for that. The reason for that is because there's only limited POU assets in the province and they want to spread them around. That was very strategic on their part. So we create these hubs to sort of manage that and we designate people to oversee those hubs, and quite frankly, they worked very effectively. When we were looking at resources in Toronto, the OPP provided resources, Waterloo provided some POU assets for us, and then Peel, York and Durham were also communicated with, and they were going to help with business continuity if we were finding ourselves stretched and unable to meet our business continuity demands. Those were all just informal communications, easily set up, easily maintained, and they were reciprocal if all of a sudden events ended up being staged in Peel Region. And so Nish Duraiappah, and Jim MacSween in York, we were all having those conversations, very easy to move those assets around, and worked collaboratively together. And I have to tell you it works very, very effectively. Now, when you have -- and even despite, you know, what was going on at the time here in Ontario, and we had -- you know, you had what was happening in Windsor, you had Toronto, there was up London way as well, we had events, as well as in Ottawa, we were managing those assets. When you look at what happened in Windsor, quite frankly, in my view was textbook in how that was addressed. And when you think of lack of injury, you know, people being -- you know, wrestling around and rolling around on the street and people in handcuffs, none of that happened. It was done very, very effectively. It was communicated what was going to be done, and then you made sure you had the resources in place to conduct it. And so that was all done with that kind of collaboration. I think sometimes when I talk about the formal processes is, you know, within the Police Services Act it's almost like an all or nothing thing. So in other words, you know, if someone's not managing, then maybe the OPP are coming in. Well, I'm not sure that's the answer as well. If you look -- I think -- I refer to Windsor again. If you look what was happening there, the OPP were brought in with assets to really to conduct that public order because they had the expertise in that area of the province to actually exercise that, and they did that in conjunction with the Acting Chief at the time. They sort of looked after -- Windsor was looking after business continuity. The OPP came in to do POU. They worked collaboratively together. It was very, very effective. So I don't think it has to be an all or nothing thing. I think if it gets -- if we were to hypothetically look at potentially being something so overwhelming and bad, if we are going to have the application of something more formal, it needs to be more easily done, and there needs to be a formal path to do that much easier, in my view.


  7. Jim Ramer, Chief (Toronto Police Service)

    And if I could just -- that's actually a good point. Because I think when it comes to MOUs, quite often we're only looking at MOUs if there is going to be a financial cost. So in other words, if a region says no we'll send you to POU and don't worry about overtime or salary dollars, we don't bother with an MOU. And we do -- already training is all done together amongst all those Public Order Units, so they already train well together and they know each -- what each other are doing. But the point of the MOU is generally, it's usually a financial component that initiates that MOU discussion.


  8. Jim Ramer, Chief (Toronto Police Service)

    Well, I mean, all police officers are independent agents of the Crown, but when you have an operation and you designate an Incident Commander, the Incident Commander is in charge, not the Chief, the Incident Commander is in charge, and he will direct all operations. Really, the role of the Chief, my only role is to oversee, ask questions if I have any concerns, and if I'm unsatisfied with the performance of the Incident Commander, to replace them. But my role is not to direct operations. If the chiefs were constantly directing operations across, you'd see us in court every day, and that doesn't happen for a reason. It's not our role in managing an event. You have trained experts, and those are the ones that you allow to carry out the event. We have expert planners. The, you know, the Operational Plan is approved. It's not approved by me. I'm briefed on the Operational Plan after it's approved, but it's briefed at a senior command level, but not by me, and then it's operationalised. And then that Incident Commander has -- there's a real view team of chief superintendents that will sit and be an advice to that individual to help guide them, provide some instructions, just as a secondary thing to help that Incident Commander fulfill their role, particularly in a very high- profile event. And that's something we found was missing in the G20, and it was something we implemented afterwards. But you have to allow the people that are designated in their role to actually carry out the operation. And then once -- because when designate who's clearly in charge everybody else now knows who's making the decisions and what that chain of command is. And to me, that's what leads to a successful operation. When that G20 was going on, I was sitting in my Command Boardroom and I was watching what was happening on TV. With a couple of -- with the fire chief, my deputy, we would brief our Executive City Managers every couple of hours just to let them know what was going because there was so many different assets that we were using throughout the city, but that was our role. And I might have a question or something, but that's it. The Incident Commander was in charge.


  9. Jim Ramer, Chief (Toronto Police Service)

    Actually, if I could go first, I'll just be very, very quick. In terms of potential legislation, I think two things. There should be a board or commission for all police services that currently do not have one. I think that's essential. Secondly, sufficient protection for board appointees to do their jobs, to be free of political influence or the appearance of, so they just can't be all of a sudden removed from it by a council motion. And I think and more importantly too, boards need the funding. They need the funding to have the people in place. Some of the excellent people that we have in Toronto, that really enables us to actually ultimately perform a better function. And then Professor Leuprecht comment, something I've been advocating for now with the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, and that's really standard senior command training. That's something that I've met with the UK on and they're going to do -- I'm bringing some of their trainers here to Toronto in the spring to conduct some of that, and I'm just trying to sort of speed up the process and invite other organizations in. I think it's very much needed, so that anybody who wants to be a chief superintendent, a deputy chief or chief, has to have undergone this training. Right now, our training is piecemeal. Some members are getting it. Some members don't get it. It largely depends on municipal funding. And perhaps if you're federally or provincially funded, you're getting more access to training. If you're municipally funded, you're getting less access to training. That shouldn't be the case. It should be something where the province or federally it's a standard either across the country, or certainly at least in our province of Ontario, where we have that kind of standardized training I think would be very, very effective. And a final comment I make is we currently have two deputy chiefs in Toronto that are civilians. Our Innovative and Technology Deputy Chief Colin Stairs and our CAO, inner CAO Svina Dhaliwal, and they make -- they are an excellent addition to the team, and they bring in expertise and an outside thinking that we have not -- you know, we generally in policing you don't experience. And, in fact, I will tell you that Colin Stairs, our IT specialist, leads our race-based data discussion and is doing an incredible job with it. He's not a police officer. So there's great value in that as well, so I just wanted to echo that with the Professor's comments.


  10. Jim Ramer, Chief (Toronto Police Service)

    If I can just jump in?


  11. Jim Ramer, Chief (Toronto Police Service)

    You know, when you’re having these events, I just want to say, first off, the police position is always to do this safely and peacefully. No one wants to be rolling around on the sidewalk because everybody is getting hurt. And it’s not just the public. It’s the police officers as well. And so that’s always the goal. And when we look on the events in Toronto on the one day, I believe the 5th of February, we had a number of very large trucks come down Avenue Road and try to breach Bloor Street and they were unable to get through. But they ended up staying there during the course of the day. And as we briefed our executive body, which is the different city leaders, the Mayor, and the executive director to keep the Board informed, they were asking questions, “Well, what are you going to do?” And we just said, “Well, the vehicles have stopped. People are demonstrating. And we’re going to facilitate peaceful demonstration, but consistent with our mission of all day, no vehicles are staying overnight.” And so we discussed with the leaders, and by the end of the night, most of them moved on. There was a couple of people in large vehicles didn’t want to move, so we brought the heavy tows into place and then they went home. And so -- because they saw that we meant business. And so that was the plan. But the whole goal was to do it peacefully. The Board asked questions, and we just told them, “No, we’re just going to allow them to demonstrate peacefully. They’re not hurting anything. We’re there for the day, but we’ll encourage them by the end of the night, we will help them move off.” And that’s exactly the way it did. What my point was is that the Board had questions, maybe coming from politicians as well to the Board about what’s going on, community members are calling and complaining about the noise and the trucks. We said, “This is the way we’re going to do it. this is the safe way to do it.” They were satisfied. And that’s the way it happened that day.


  12. Jim Ramer, Chief (Toronto Police Service)

    I think perhaps that’s, you know, the way it was written at one time, and maybe that’s the perception. I think operationally, that’s not what happens. I know, you know, when you’re working with any of the organizations and the OPP in the particular, they come in and they provide assistance, and they work collaboratively together. And quite frankly, that’s the way that all of policing does work. And I just think it’s -- you know, when you look at section 9, it’s in that -- it’s going to be in that rare incident that you have something that is beyond the capabilities or capacity of a particular jurisdiction, and then maybe for that particular event, there needs to be some more clarity about what the roles are. But in the meantime, as Ryan had said, when we do this type of collaboration, there are -- consistent with Morden, there are clear parameters that we have to address in terms of command and control and how things are going to operate. So it is happening already.


  13. Jim Ramer, Chief (Toronto Police Service)

    I see you’re looking at me.


  14. Jim Ramer, Chief (Toronto Police Service)

    I would ---


  15. Jim Ramer, Chief (Toronto Police Service)

    Yeah. The only comment I would make is that that should never happen, unless it’s done in conjunction with the police operation and with the full knowledge and support of the police to help to come to some type of peaceful conclusion or -- I mean, it’s done every day. We have 17, 18 protests every weekend in Toronto, and the first thing we do is we meet with the protest leaders, and we talk to them, and we say, “No, you can’t shut down this, all the city, but maybe we’ll facilitate a march around these locations. We’ll help you do that.” And we come to that. And I think that, really, at the end of the day, that’s what -- by going to that level of government individual to help, it’s obviously going to be a more significant event, but you’re going to try to accomplish the same thing in conjunction with the police operations. So I think they need to be done in tandem if they are undertaken, and there’s agreement that they should be done.