Alok Mukherjee was the civilian overseer of the Toronto police between 2005 and 2015, during the most tumultuous decade the force had ever faced. In this provocative and highly readable collaboration with Tim Harper, former Toronto Star national affairs columnist, Mukherjee reveals how Police Chief Bill Blair changed the channel after the police-killing of Sammy Yatim. He explains how society has given police tacit approval to cull people in mental health crisis and pulls the curtain back on a police culture which avoids accountability, puts officer safety above public safety, colludes on internal investigations and pushes for use of force over empathy and crisis resolution.
The book takes the reader inside the G20 debacle; the police push for an ever-growing budget; the battle over carding, which disproportionately targeted blacks; the police treatment of its own members in mental health distress; and the battles with an entrenched union that pushed back on Mukherjee’s every move toward reform. In spite of, or as a result of all this, Mukherjee played a leading role in shaping the national conversation about policing, sketching a way forward for a new type of policing that brings law enforcement out of the nineteenth century and into the twenty-first century.
There is no shortage of “inside” police books written by former cops. Here is a rare title—not only in Canada but the Western world—written from the community’s perspective.