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Goldlist: action needed after police review

While a review into how Toronto police officers conduct themselves when dealing with the mentally ill is a positive step, Toronto criminal lawyer Jordana Goldlist says how the department implemented past recommendations from coroner's inquests will be an important finding.

According to the Toronto Star, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director will begin a systemic review of the Toronto Police Service over its members’ use of force and how officers treat people with mental illness.

According to a media release, the review will encompass public complaints, evidence from complaints probes, use of force incidents, and past reviews and reports including the recent coroner's inquest that examined some of the issues slated to be addressed by the review. It will look at policies, procedures and practices with respect to use of force, officer training, best practices from other jurisdictions and relevant research and data, says the release.

"I am pleased to hear not only that a review of police use of force will be conducted but also, and perhaps more importantly, what effect similar reviews have had in the past, if any," says Goldlist.

In the release, review board director Gerry McNeilly says these recent high-profile cases along with public complaints have warranted a review of the Toronto Police Service's use of force that has raised concerns among Toronto residents and affected confidence in policing.

However, Goldlist wonders if the report will have a noticeable impact on policing once it is released.

"It's all well and good that people are paid to write these eloquent reports on police violence but what happens next?" Goldlist asks. "Does anyone of importance actually read the report? And does it result in actual change, or are the reports nothing more than a means to pacify the outraged public?"

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