Maggie's Police Relations Policies

Meeting notes
October 15, 1994


PSSP was informed by woman that she had been ordered by police to remove her "Safe Sex Ho" button (Ho is a street word for whore, the button is produced by PSSP), or face being charged with 'communicating'. Danny Cockerline for PSSP requested in a letter [dated?] to Chief of Police Jack Marks that the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force not use condoms and AIDS educational materials against prostitutes, Staff Inspector James Clark replied that police will use "any items which it considers evidence relating to a criminal charge."

Reported to the Board of Maggie's Sept. 27, 1989, PSSP staff Valerie [Scott] and Ryan [Hotchkiss] were doing outreach in Parkdale when they and women they were speaking with were descended upon by a cruiser and two officers form 14 Division who demanded to know everyone's age, address and work history. Valerie and Ryan explained that they were doing outreach for the project and gave them safe sex pamphlets. The cops ignored them and pressed for identifying information.

At one point Ryan inadvertently called Valerie by name. The police then followed them in their cruiser for the next three hours and when ever they approached anyone to do outreach the police arrived and harassed the girls who were working. The next night, while Valerie was out buying a litre of milk, the same cops pulled up and began hooting at her ‹ mocking her and calling her by name. They said that if they couldn't find anything else, they could always get her with "prowling by night" for being out after 10 p.m.. Chris Bearchell volunteered to write a letter of protest.

A letter describing the incident signed by June Callwood for the board of Maggie's was sent Oct. 31, 1989, to the Duty Sergeant of 14 Division and carbon copied to June Rowlands, Chairman of the Police Commission, William McCormack, Chief of Police, Superintendent Getty, 14 Division, Perry Kendal, Medical Officer of Health, Jack Layton, Chairman of the Board of Health. After the letter describes the incident it states:

"I am sure it is not the intention of the force to either disrupt AIDS education work or to appear as if its members have nothing better to do than follow AIDS educators around for hours at a time. It would greatly facilitate our work, and your division's relationship with the community it is meant to serve, if you could clarify this with your officers."

On January, 1990, Stiletto, ran the following story (without a byline) by Ryan Hotchkiss to whom the girl had reported the incident.

"Any girl who has been on the street a few months has heard of Sperm Whale, a huge cop often assigned to large sweeps. He's dangerous. He really gets off on power and humiliation. He forces girls to suck him off, sometimes at gun point, and steals their money. One girl we spoke to had been assaulted and robbed by him and then given 30 seconds to run. He told her that if he could catch her after the 30-second lead, she'd be arrested. . . .".

After the story ran PSSP got feedback from people who worked in other social agencies whose clients also reported experiences with Sperm Whale.

On Feb. 19, 1990, two officers from Internal Affairs, Staff Sergeant Roy Pilkington, and Sergeant Brian Francis visited Chris Bearchell at her home to inquire about a story in Stiletto.. They explained that their unit reported directly to the chief and that the chief wanted to get to the bottom of the Sperm Whale story. They wanted to talk to anyone who had any direct experience with this guy or who could corroborate someone else's experience or who even knew anyone by name who had experience with this guy. They wanted names, even street names, and they wanted to record people's statements to them. They could meet them anywhere‹at Chris's house or Peter Maloney's office or where ever.

They were looking for evidence of criminal activity such as robbery, sexual assault, mis-use of a weapon. They weren't interested in stories about rough handling or verbal abuse.

They mentioned that there were two or three Toronto cops that they knew with that nickname, that it was a name in a book by Wambau in the mid-70s and that every cop who had that build got the name. They suggested that they knew one such local cop well. ...

As they got up to leave they stressed that their visit and the contents of the discussion had to be confidential, especially vis a vis other cops, because they didn't want to tip this guy off that they were investigating him.

On May 15, 1991, Sasha briefed the board of Maggie's on the arrest of D., the first (known) case of police (from 51 Division) entrapping and arresting a woman for "communicating" in the wake of, and possibly as a result of, a PSSP educator doing outreach to her. (What are you doing with those condoms then? We know you got them from the girl at Maggie's.") Fortunately, Sasha had given D. matches (with Maggie's address and phone number) as well as condoms and she went to Maggie's the next day and told them what happened. we put her in touch with a lawyer and some other resources.

The board recognized that it couldn't do anything about D.'s case without her consent and considered some kind of generalized complaint perhaps to the Board of Health or possibly the police commission.

Gwendolyn reported another kind of interaction with the police at that meeting. Officers from the sexual assault squad had requested Maggie's help in circulating information about serial rapists and in finding girls who would testify against them.

Notes dated August 9, 1991 PSSP policing discussion

(Notes from personal communication between Chris and Judy.)

Wanted to talk to us "about working together on some community stuff together ‹ strange but true." Community-based policing is about everybody keeping an eye on everybody else.

It covers the area between Yonge and Jarvis and between Maitland and Isabella -- an area that includes lots of prostitutes. The emphasis is on community safety, rather than busting people all the time. "I realize there's a bit of conflict of interest in that -- when you do your business we have to do ours -- and that puts us in a precarious position."

But there might be times when they could work with PSSP outreach workers, example of the guy who was caught cruising around boystown with a gun and they needed somebody to press charges so they didn't have to let the guy go. (Boystown is not in the area but she gets those kinds of requests because the cops think it's all queer territory.) They could supply information to supplement the BTS.

I don't care what industry you're in, you shouldn't have to be stabbed or raped. She knows there's "a real problem" with how cops have treated hos in the past, and that "all it takes is one idiot in a uniform to say something wrong and it blows everything. But hos are a large part of the population and their perpetually overlooked. She's "naively hopeful" that we can start to change that.

51 Division did their community policing experiment in Regent; but these are different people with a different mandate.

Discussion: Maggie's is a safe space

Police not only use opportunities to do evidence gathering they also do actual intelligence gathering. Having police in the space where they might hear snip-its of conversation or read or steal documents any of this information might be useful to them in terms of knowing our internal controversies, our future plans, or any perceptible weaknesses. Maggie's staff have always operated under the assumption that the phones were tapped. Police in the space may make people vulnerable who are there who might have outstanding warrants, be a juvenile, have bail or probation conditions, or been abused or just have "bad blood" with a particular officer. The repercussions of this are that we may cease to see regular volunteers or people who are in need of our services and support (like after just being arrested or having a bad date; or doing community service hours.) This would be a great loss to the community as well as to Maggie's because there are few if any other agencies where they feel they could get help regardless of their status with the law. This is particularly important when providing services, information and advocacy for people whose work is criminal let alone at chronic risk to abuse from police. People have in the past phoned or arrived at Maggie's in a state of crisis, seeking refuge from the police for a variety of possible reasons. If police, undercover or otherwise, were to walk in the space.

Necessary relations with the police

Since the beginning CORP, PSSP, Maggie's, SWAT have had liaisons with different aspects and departments of the policing system. Liaisons have typically regarded issues like law enforcement policies, police misconduct, community policing, response to reports of assaults on prostitutes, murders and dangerous offenders. This has included meetings with individual members of the force, attendance at Network meetings with the sexual assault squad, attendance at residents' groups forums, meetings with community policing groups such as Church/Wellesley, and meetings and correspondence with representatives of the Police Services Board, written correspondence with police chiefs.

Within the community Maggie's maintained membership in groups responding to police abuse from the time of their conception. Groups like the Anonymous Police Complaints Project, Coalition Against Police Violence, and Women Against Police Violence. We have always maintained contact with several lawyers and the Parkdale Community Legal Clinic and the Community Legal Advocacy Services Program (CLASP) at York University.

Judy Noseworthy, 52 Division Community Patrol requested meeting with us to discuss community policing...PSSP discussion notes dated August 9, 1991.

Do we have a principle against meeting with the cops?

What about credibility with funders, etc. if we appear to be uncooperative?

What about our credibility on the street if we appear to be uncooperative?

Would girls believe us if we said:

  1. that we had to meet with them because they asked us to (and stuff about credibility with our funders, etc.)? ... or

  2. We wanted to because we wanted to find out what they're up to (and about credibility of our criticism of the cops)?

If we meet with them, should it be on our turf or theirs?

For the purposes of security

Suggested policies for relating with the police (for inclusion as appendix to the operations manual).

Previous drop-in policies: (Minutes PSSP Staff Planning Meeting, March 3, 1991) How we should respond to the police: We should remain cool but polite at all times. If the police come into the centre or approach us on the street and are looking for someone, either a suspect or a missing person, we should get information about who (a description) and why (if possible) and get the officer's card. What are the limits on being polite? Obviously we don't want to encourage people to hang around who will be off-putting to the people we want to be here for so it is probably not generally a good idea to offer coffee or otherwise encourage them but this is a judgement call as is so much of dealing with the cops). If the police arrive at our door out of simple curiosity, be polite, tell them who and what we are and start in on them with a safe sex rap. If the police are harassing us, in here or on the street, remain cool and assertive. Get as much info as possible, especially badge and car numbers. If they are harassing someone else on the street, keep cool and get info, check with the person, through eye contact if nothing else, about whether they want your involvement. If possible slip them a card or otherwise give some indication that you will be a witness, etc. if they need one. If one of us gets busted call Chris or someone with an answering machine. (Chris will contact a lawyer and generally raise the alarm.) There are good cops out there who are sometimes trying to protect the girls. We should try to be aware of who they are as well as who the problems are. It helps to be on a polite, nodding acquaintance basis with them while doing outreach on the stroll though it may be harder in some areas than in others. When we might need police protection will be harder to predict ‹ another judgement call. Eg., if someone is, or is threatening to be, violent and refuses to stop (we should not just say we will call the cops, but we should follow through on it, otherwise it becomes an idle threat), if a whorebasher comes in or a stranger is lurking by the door at quitting time and someone is here alone and afraid to leave. Motion from the board [date?] Unless you have a warrant we are instructed by our board of directors to politely ask you to state your purpose and to then to leave [?] if they don't leave we are to repeat it and say nothing else.

New suggested policies

  • Never have meetings with the police without the presence of witnesses.
  • Never alert a police officer that you are alone, in trouble, lost or intoxicated or impaired without the presence witnesses.
  • Meetings with police should happen in public places such as coffee shops, restaurants, libraries etc. as much as possible. Meetings should be negotiated to happen in their office over Maggie's.
  • Meetings between the police and Maggie's should have representatives of both the staff and board.

When meetings with police at Maggie's are unavoidable

  • Everyone is the space should be informed of any prior knowledge or warning of the arrival of police.
  • Everyone in the space should be discreetly alerted if police arrive unexpectedly
  • Don't give out individuals' phone numbers or addresses, say you will attempt to have the person contact the officers.
  • Make it clear that no individual has the authority to make commitments on behalf of the organization.

If police show up at your house

Police have on several occasions arrived unannounced at the homes of Maggie's/PSSP staff/volunteers regarding their work at Maggie's. Police prefer to come to. talk to people in their space because it provides them with opportunities for intelligence gathering. This should be avoided if at all possible for the same reason. Remember Maggie's advice on If cops want to talk to you . . . and Maggie's policies for talking to the police.

[Rights Groups]

Created: September 22, 1997
Last modified: April 11, 1998

Maggie's Maggie's
Box 82527, 422 Parliament St.
Toronto, ON M5A 4N8
Tel: +1 (416) 964-0150