Don't ask, don't tell policy not feasible
By DON PEAT
Last Updated: 19th November 2008, 2:34am
Don't ask but do tell.
That's the message the Toronto Police Services Board is planning to reinforce to its officers when it comes to immigration status at its meeting tomorrow.
Despite receiving 444 individual petitions calling on the board to implement and endorse a “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy, board chairman Dr. Alok Mukherjee says telling officers not to tell just isn't feasible.
“If you're not asking because it's not relevant to the investigation … then there is nothing to tell,” Mukherjee told the Sun yesterday.
“If we can make sure, and assure the community, that the Don't Ask policy that exists is being implemented and uniformly enforced, then that itself provides a great deal of protection.”
The board is set to receive a report on the petitions tomorrow and a report from the Don't Ask, Don't Tell working group.
In March 2007, the board gave the green light to police Chief Bill Blair to begin implementing a “Don't Ask” policy that would allow people without “legal status” to report crimes without fear of deportation.
The policy, an issue that was first raised three years ago, prevents cops from asking people about citizenship status, unless there are “bona fide” reasons to do so.
It is intended to entice people without status who have been victims or witnesses of a crime to come forward without worrying that they may be kicked out of the country.
In a report to the board, the Immigration Legal Committee argued there was no duty for Toronto Police officers to disclose a person's immigration status.
But Mukherjee said in his report to the board the current policy “is as far as they can go on this matter.”
“I felt there was no point in creating false hope or to prolong this matter,” Mukherjee said.
Asking officers not to tell about a person's immigration status if they learn it is asking too much, the chairman maintained.