[URBAN NOTE] “Will Peel police chief be part of board’s vision for change?”
The Toronto Star‘s San Grewal notes that Peel Regional Police Chief Jennifer Evans is in big trouble.
Peel police chief Jennifer Evans has spent much of the year battling the board that oversees her on issues such as carding, which she refused to stop. Now, with her contract up for renewal next year, and a community restless for change, some close to the situation say a collision is looming over the future of policing in two of Canada’s largest cities.
The latest controversy is a $21 million lawsuit launched against Evans, alleging she “all but guaranteed” a policing career to a bystander who was shot by a Peel officer. The chief told the Star the lawsuit’s allegations, which haven’t been tested in court, are “without merit.” On Wednesday the board told the Star an emergency meeting has been called for Friday to deal with the lawsuit, which also names the board as a defendant. The board chair did not rule out an internal investigation of Evans.
“It’s like tectonic plates,” says Fred Kaustinen, executive director of the Ontario Association of Police Services Boards, who is at the centre of the reform movement in policing across the province. He talks about the collision in Peel between the board, as it pushes for change, and the force, led by Evans, which is resisting. “They’re pushing together and all of a sudden it’s creating a very loud, noisy, earth-shaking change.”
That change in Peel is being led by a police board that has taken a different approach than previous boards, which were aligned with the direction of senior officers, says Kaustinen, who served as the Peel police board’s interim executive director after the previous one was fired by the new board.