UofT Law faculty authors: 


Kent Roach Canadian Policing Why and How it Must Change (Toronto: Irwin Law, Delve Books, 2022) (267 pp.) (short-listed for Balsillie Prize in Public Policy)


Canadian Policing: Why and How It Must Change is a comprehensive and critical examination of Canadian policing from its colonial origins to its response to the February 2022 blockades and occupations. Police shootings in June 2020 should dispel any complacency that Canada does not face similar policing problems as the United States, and a vicious circle of overpolicing and underprotection plagues many intersecting disadvantaged groups. Multiple accountability measures — criminal investigations, Charter litigation, complaints, and discipline — have not improved Canadian policing. What is required is more active and proactive governance by the boards, councils, and ministers that are responsible for Canada’s police. Governance should respect law enforcement independence and discretion while rejecting overbroad claims of police operational independence and self-governance.

Even before pandemic-related deficits, the costs of the public police were not sustainable — these budgets require fundamental change without expansion. Such change should include greater service delivery by more expert and cost-effective health, social service, and community agencies. Indigenous police services — unfortunately, Canada’s only chronically and unconstitutionally underfunded police services — can also play a positive role. To that end, Canadian Policing: Why and How It Must Change offers concrete proposals for reforms to the RCMP, use of force policies, better community safety plans, and more democratic policing.


“I was born on a First Nation Reserve at a time when over-policing was palpable and directed at enforcing our lives as authorized by government policies like the pass system and legislation like the Indian Act. I served Canada for eleven years as a trial judge and fourteen years as the first ever Indigenous judge to serve on an appellate court in Canada. I believed this lived experience made me as knowledgeable as anyone about Canadian policing. Turns out, I was wrong. This book by Professor Kent Roach has reminded me of what I have said many times: anything written by him is a chance to learn something vital about our system of justice. This book is a shock to the system and a lesson about what makes a healthier society. Professor Roach lives up to his global reputation as a criminal law expert; reminds us about dark pieces of our history; and does so in clear and compelling prose, concluding with how we can be a better nation and a more just society.”
The Honourable Harry LaForme

“Kent Roach’s book, Canadian Policing: Why and How It Must Change, is the most thorough and best-researched account of the problematic aspects of policing in contemporary Canada. It is an indispensable guide to citizens and scholars on the costs and effectiveness of policing, as well as police structures and the accountability of police to elected governments.”
Peter Russell O.C.
Professor of Political Science Emeritus
University of Toronto

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