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Digital Subscriptions > Quill & Quire > May 2018 > To serve and protect

To serve and protect

Former Toronto Police Services Board chair Alok Mukherjee delivers a critique of police and politicians who protect their own


Excessive Force: Toronto’s Fight to Reform City Policing

Alok Mukherjee with Tim Harper

Douglas & McIntyre

EVEN IN A CITY as relatively orderly and lawful as Toronto, the police service plays an outsized role in the municipality’s political and social life. In the brief period from the start of 2018 to the publication of Alok Mukherjee’s Excessive Force: Toronto’s Fight to Reform City Policing, two significant controversies related to Toronto’s police services emerged: the apparent mishandling of the investigation of missing men in the city’s Gay Village and the revelation of the police’s use (previously denied) of a device that gathers cell phone data from citizens.

Mukherjee recounts the tumultuous years (2005–2015) he spent serving on and chairing the civilian board intended to oversee the police service, touching on virtually every nonpublic- transit-related hot-button issue the city confronted during his tenure, from the controversy around carding to the handling of the anti-G20 protests in 2010 to the police killing of teenager Sammy Yatim.

The book, co-written with longtime Toronto Star columnist Tim Harper, dramatically captures how entrenched and influential the police service is in Toronto a nd how its leadership effectively manipulates public opinion and public officials to ensure that any change is slow to come – if it comes at all.

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