Update November 27, 2020
On November 9, 2020, the Review requested an extension of no more than two months to complete its work, and an increase in its budget allocation. The written request is attached.
The request reflects the extraordinary engagement by community members, former and current police officers, and experts around the world in this important work. Judge Epstein was particularly gratified that so many people expressed an interest in contributing to this work – no one was turned away. In addition to the increased demands on the Review’s work because it has attracted so much interest, the Review has faced certain unforeseen challenges apart from the known breadth and complexity of its mandate.
The first is the ever-changing landscape within which Judge Epstein must make her recommendations. The Toronto Police Services Board recently issued a report containing 81 recommendations for change. City Council has directed the City Manager to address a wide range of issues relevant to the Review’s mandate. The Ontario Human Rights Commission has issued several reports on the Toronto Police Service on topics related to this Review, with another report to come. The Community Safety and Policing Act, 2019 has not yet been proclaimed but must be taken into consideration in any discussion about the future role of the Toronto Police Service, the Toronto Police Services Board, the City of Toronto and social agencies. All these developments and more are relevant to the Review, particularly its recommendations.
Second, in the aftermath of the George Floyd death and similar events, the public discourse has focused on the role the police should or should not play in responsibilities currently within their portfolios, including missing person investigations. That same important discourse is relevant to the relationship between the police and marginalized and vulnerable communities. In just the last few months, the complexity of policing-related issues has increased substantially.
Third, since March 2020, the Review has operated within the limitations imposed by the pandemic, requiring that it take additional measures and time to ensure that its work is complete. This has presented time-consuming challenges for the Review.
The request for only a two-month extension reflects both these challenges and Judge Epstein’s progress in writing her lengthy, multi-volume report.
On November 24, 2020, the Toronto Police Services Board approved the Review’s request for a two-month extension and for an increase in the Review’s budget. The Report will be publicly released on or before March 31, 2021.