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The Toronto Star Recognizes Jamil Jivani '13 for Community Safety Initiative

The following is an excerpt from an article written by Jim Rankin of the Toronto Star. The full piece can be viewed by clicking here.

TORONTO - The funky Spadina Ave. loft presents the kind of diversity and hipness you’d find in an Apple ad. The glowing laptops, phones and tablets only reinforce the notion.

But what these young people — many either in university or early into careers — are doing is studying how policing works in Toronto. They’re working on a plan to blitz media outlets with educational op-ed pieces. A crowd-funded documentary is also in the works.

Dubbed the Policing Literacy Initiative, the group is the brainchild of Jamil Jivani, a 26-year-old Brampton native and recent Yale Law School grad. They have been meeting twice a month since August to talk all things policing.

On a recent Saturday afternoon, 10 of the group’s 20 members have gathered at the Centre for Social Innovation to tinker with the opinion pieces they are preparing. Among the subjects: the use of body-worn police cameras; Ontario’s police complaints system; the stigma of living in heavily policed neighbourhoods; the “psychological” detention that occurs when police stop, question and document people going about their daily lives.

“We’re trying to reach out to as many people as possible. A big part of it is figuring out the timing of getting these things out and to line up when it’s strategically beneficial.”

The discussions are civil, thoughtful and constructive, which is the point of it all.

“We’re trying to reach out to as many people as possible,” said Jivani, dressed in a Toronto Maple Leafs hoodie. “A big part of it is figuring out the timing of getting these things out and to line up when it’s strategically beneficial.”

While at Yale, Jivani was a member of the university’s Innovations in Policing Clinic, which looked at police leadership and relationship building in the community.

In August, following the fatal Toronto police shooting of Sammy Yatim, the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case, continued controversy over the Toronto police practice of “carding” young people and claims of racial profiling, Jivani borrowed a page from the Yale clinic’s mandate and formed the Toronto Policing Literacy Initiative.

The goal is to make Toronto a safer, more equitable city.

The group’s research has included direct access to stakeholders, such as deputy police chief Peter Sloly and Alok Mukherjee, chair of the Toronto Police Services Board. The group has also picked the minds of public housing officials, academics and the media.

(Full disclosure: Members asked for — and received — advice from this reporter on writing and how to get the attention of editors.)

Five of the initiative’s members sit on a special community advisory committee that reports to the Police and Community Engagement Review, the police service’s ongoing overhaul of the way it interacts with the public.


Read the full article here.