6 Culture Change

Organizations that continually demonstrate excellence do so first and foremost because of their culture. Some view the Service as already excellent. Some believe it’s good but could be better. Others think it’s out of touch and systemically biased. Regardless, it must be – and be seen to be – where it is needed most, working in partnerships and responding to our city’s complex needs. It must serve all neighbourhoods and all residents with respect and dignity as expressed in the Ontario Human Rights Code. This includes all marginalized and at-risk populations regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, ethnicity, colour, race, and disability.

Our recommendations will change WHAT the Service delivers and HOW it delivers. The changes require a dedicated focus on leadership and decision-making. This focus is essential for the Service to maintain its current strengths while meeting the changing needs of our city and responding to the areas of constructive criticism outlined in our Interim Report.

What’s Going to be Different this Time?

The call for culture change within the TPS is not new and so we understand the skepticism that was expressed in consultations with the public and Service members.

Several previous reports, all endorsed by the Board and/or the Service, have made culture-related recommendations (Project Charter - 2007, PACER – 2013, Iacobucci Report – 2014). Each one described the need for culture change and made specific recommendations for measures such as formal commitments on the part of the Board and senior leaders, community consultation committees, stricter officer discipline, cameras, every officer spending two weeks in the Community Response Unit, and additional training.

Against these earlier efforts, we are optimistic because modernization is something very different. We’re not trying to layer culture change on top of the existing organization and its approach to policing. We don’t believe that will work – and past experience proves it.

The starting point for modernization, supported by experts and best practices, is that successful culture change requires a comprehensive approach that considers all the ways in which culture is embedded in an organization. In particular, it needs to focus on four key strategic fronts:

  • Leadership and decision-making
  • People management and human resources strategies.
  • Structures and business processes.
  • Use of technology and management information.

Our plan takes this kind of comprehensive approach. It includes powerful and profound change levers that go well beyond any previous reports and recommendations and impact all aspects of the Service and at all levels. It also includes a very different approach to measuring and demonstrating active accountability for progress and results.

Culture Change in a Police Setting

Culture change in the TPS is complex and will take time to achieve. That’s in part because it’s a large operational organization with almost 8,000 members and a diverse range of police and civilian functions. It’s also because policing is highly regulated through provincial legislation and by necessity includes a strong emphasis on following procedures and rules. Not everyone sees or experiences this reality in the same way but the words people sometimes use to describe it are variations on a theme: top-down, command-and-control, restrictive, inflexible. Occasionally people even refer to police culture as military or paramilitary.

In modern organizational thinking, these characteristics are often viewed as cultural barriers to flexibility, empowerment, and innovation. But certain aspects can be appropriate in the right measure for some types of organizational cultures, including policing.

For example – as citizens, we need to know that police officers will follow their training to put themselves in extremely dangerous and potentially violent situations without question or hesitation. We also need to know that police service members will follow procedures to the letter without overt or implicit bias, to ensure fair and effective prosecutions and protect the rights of individuals under the law. To be successful, the culture needs to promote and ensure a disciplined adherence to legislated requirements, training, and procedures.

Compare this to the emphasis in modernized policing on neighbourhood officers who are facilitators, partners, and collaborative problem solvers. We want our officers to be innovative and able to work independently with others to develop solutions and achieve outcomes.

It’s not that these different cultural characteristics are incompatible or mutually exclusive. In fact, being both in the right combination and at the right time is what modern policing is all about. Our intent won’t be achieved if procedures and training do not empower officers to be facilitators, partners, and problem solvers.

A Culture of Excellence

We recognize that we can’t impose a new culture on the TPS. The experts and best practices on culture change emphasize that culture must grow and evolve from within. It’s appropriate and necessary, however, for the Task Force to provide a description of what that culture should include. Based on our discussions over the past twelve months, as well as input from the public, Service members, and external experts, the following is our advice:

How the TPS Serves and Engages with the Public, Stakeholders, and Partners

  • A more familiar relationship with neighbourhoods that focuses on community safety and brings neighbourhood insights and sensitivities to policing operations.
  • Collaborative, engaging, inclusive partnerships with communities built around neighbourhoods and focused on solutions and outcomes.
  • Trust-based relationships with all communities, with special sensitivity towards youth.
  • A neighbourhood-centered culture that does not lose sight of victims or individuals.
  • Always providing value by leveraging the mandates of other providers and agencies, involving seamless coordination with other City departments and agencies.
  • An ability to take risks, admit and learn from mistakes, respond quickly to concerns and engage creatively on solutions.

How the TPS Operates and Manages Internally as a Public Service Organization

  • Supporting, valuing, and rewarding innovation as a continuous process of creative thinking, creating value, and improving services and processes.
  • Collaborative, inclusive, and engaging internally with a diversity of lived experiences and perspectives.
  • More empowered front-line staff – clear about the outcomes they are expected to achieve, and with more flexibility to exercise appropriate creativity and judgement.
  • More empowered management, with a greater focus on supporting front-line staff to achieve outcomes and greater flexibility to exercise appropriate creativity and judgement.
  • Less focus on hierarchy and seniority and more on identifying, developing, and rewarding people based on performance and merit. At the same time, continuing to work towards a Service that reflects the diversity of Toronto both at the front line and at all levels of management.
  • Focused and disciplined development and performance evaluation – defining excellence in all aspects of the Service, developing staff competencies and training managers and holding them accountable to monitor and measure effectiveness and deal directly and constructively with performance issues.
  • More open, inclusive and engaging desicion-making and information-sharing both internally and externally, recognizing that in a policing environment not all information can be shared publicly
  • Breaking down organizational silos and the “my division” mentality, and building an “our organization” culture, where all departments and members understand the shared objectives and work together to achieve them.
  • Preparation and support for members – building their resilience for the continuous change and improvement required of public servants in today’s complex environment.

The First Step – Engaging with Service Members

The first step in the culture change process will be to engage Service members in a self-reflective discussion of the cultural characteristics described above by providing members with an opportunity to:

  • Validate, add to and extend these characteristics to reflect their own experience.
  • Identify gaps in the existing culture, barriers in the way of change, and culture building solutions.

This process needs to involve Service members at all levels and be open, transparent, and trust-based. There needs to be a strong emphasis on an engagement process that encourages candour and honesty in a safe setting.

Action on Four Strategic Fronts

The Service is very engaged on the four strategic fronts mentioned earlier to expedite and ensure cultural change:

  • Leadership and decision-making.
  • People management and human resources strategy
  • Structures and business processes.
  • Technology and information management.

1. Leadership and Decision-Making

Change needs to be enabled by committed leadership and active accountability at all levels. It will require sustained effort to overcome natural resistance and to keep the organization focused and on track.

The Toronto Police Service Board

Overseeing the implementation of modernization will be the Board’s most important priority over the next three years and beyond. This means supporting the Service with the appropriate resources, advocacy, advice, and priority setting it needs to be successful. It also means monitoring, probing, and holding the Service’s senior executive team accountable for real change.

The Board has already formally confirmed that our Final Report will be its Business Plan for the next three years, including performance goals and objectives that the Service will measure and report to the Board quarterly and annually.

Because culture change is so central to modernization, our advice to the Board is that they pay particular attention to this area. Also, because culture change is a very specialized challenge, we are recommending that the Board appoint an independent advisor with strong experience in complex change management to provide it with advice and perspective.

The Senior Executive and Senior Management Teams

Within the Service, the senior executive team is the Chief and members of Command, comprised of the Deputy Chiefs and the Chief Administrative Officer. The next layer is the senior management team comprised of Staff Superintendents and civilian Directors, followed by Superintendents, Inspectors, and civilian Managers.

The leadership of the Service has an essential role to embrace, demonstrate, and champion change. As the Service moves forward, it should set clear expectations and provide the training, tools, and other resources necessary for all leaders to be effective in this role.

Strategy Management Office

The Strategy Management Office has a new mandate to oversee, plan and coordinate the implementation of our recommendations. New leadership and new resources have been assigned, with members recruited from across the Service. Reporting directly to the Chief and physically co-located with Command, the Strategy Management Office has a key ongoing role within the Service to be the central driver of modernization and to ensure that decisions and decision-making processes are aligned to and advance the Strategy Map.

Strategy Management Office

The Strategy Management Office has also recruited an external project management leader with strong experience in business transformation and re-engineering, as well as an expert in communications.


Already, the teams have developed our recommendations into six work streams and established a standardized project lifecycle to better structure implementation.


The Strategy Management Office has two teams of full-time implementation leaders, including individuals who have been members of or supported the Task Force over the past year.

  • Implementation Planning: Focused on planning and overseeing development and implementation of the recommendations.
  • Organizational Change Management: Focused on the people side of the change process - culture change, leadership, communications, internal and external engagement processes.

The Strategy Management Office has also recruited an external project management leader with strong experience in business transformation and re-engineering, as well as an expert in communications. Already, the teams have developed our recommendations into six work streams and established a standard project lifecycle to better structure implementation.

Although the Strategy Management Office is a centralized unit, not all of the work will be done centrally. Consistent with our culture change plan, teams that will be accountable for various aspects of implementation are being set up across the organization. The Strategy Management Office will coordinate and monitor the work of these teams.

City Council and the Administration

Leadership also needs to come from City Council and the City’s public service. Because our recommendations were developed to work together in an integrated and mutually reinforcing way, city leaders will need to resist the temptation to be selective and avoid those that are necessary but potentially more challenging.

2. People Management and Human Resources

Because culture change is central to modernization, we are recommending a comprehensive people management and Human Resources (HR) strategy for the Service. This strategy represents a significant strategic shift for the Service including the following:

  • A more strategic HR Unit: Significant changes to the roles, functions, and structure of the Service’s Human Resources unit to enable it to a play a more modern and strategic role.
  • HR Policies and Programs to Support Modernization: Major changes to HR policies, processes, analytics and tools that will enable the service-delivery changes we have recommended and in doing so affect all parts of the organization.

A More Strategic HR Unit:

The Service’s HR vision should be realigned to proactively enable modernization. We are recommending that this vision include the following elements:

  • A focus on cultivating the potential of people
  • HR as a credible, and service-oriented enabler and partner.
  • Four areas of focus for the HR Division:
    • People
    • Leadership
    • Culture and Diversity
    • Effective delivery of programs and services

The HR unit should adopt a customer-centric model of service-delivery that supports members through integrated and easily accessible channels. It should embrace technology and analytics, and be able to offer credible advice to supervisors and managers on resolving people issues and provide timely information to senior leaders to support informed business decision.

The HR unit should be reorganized to reflect the proposed HR vision and customer-centric model. We are recommending a clearer separation of HR’s role as strategic enabler of business strategy from its role to develop and deliver programs and services for employees. This separation will be accomplished by creating the following within the HR unit:

  • An HR partner that will work closely with and advise the Service’s senior leadership on people matters.
  • A specialized service focused on key people outcomes including wellness, leadership talent management, culture, and diversity.
  • Transactional services that are efficient and responsive to the needs of employees, including salary and benefits administration, training and development, and workplace policies.

HR-Related Policies and Programs to Support Modernization

Major changes to HR policies and programs should include:

  • The development of core and leadership competencies that reflect the behaviors, skills and abilities required of Service members and leaders and that will be the foundation of the Service’s culture as well as the basis for hiring, developing, evaluating, promoting and recognizing employees.
  • A multi-year plan to achieve a police service that mirrors the broad diversity of Toronto, including benchmarks and transparent public annual reporting related to diversity, including gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, ethnicity, colour, race, and disability in all parts of the Service and all ranks.
  • A re-engineered performance management system that holds leaders actively accountable for the performance and development of their staff as well as promotion based on demonstrated performance. Through this system, Service leaders will be accountable for setting and communicating clear goals and expectations, being engaged in their employees’ growth and development, and creating an environment that provides continuous and timely feedback and recognition. Leaders will be better supported to deal directly, effectively, and in a timely way with performance issues and unacceptable behaviours.
  • A broader, coordinated, and sufficiently resourced wellness strategy that provides physical and psychological services to ensure that all Service members are supported and have the mental and physical wellbeing and resilience to contribute effectively to organizational excellence.
  • A partnership with an Ontario university and/or college of applied arts and technology to work with the TPS on its training model for a modernized police service. The goal will be further professionalization and active accountability by leveraging the partner organization’s ability to bring more academic rigour, additional training mechanisms, and research to create new and relevant learning opportunities.
  • A new system to evaluate the effectiveness of training that incorporates:
    • Public perception data generated through surveys.
    • Internal employee engagement survey data.
    • Metrics for increased operational efficiency.
    • Measurement of executive and employee performance to assess behaviour change and adoption of new cultural characteristics.
    • Indicators of the degree to which Service members apply the training in their jobs, including the extent to which training outcomes occur.

3. Structures and Processes

As highlighted in Chapter 5, our recommendations represent significant changes to structures and processes across the organization. However, these recommendations are not only service-delivery improvement opportunities; they are also important levers of cultural change. For example:

  • Neighbourhood-Centric Policing: The process and structure changes required to establish neighbourhood-centric policing will require and drive a different mindset and culture, including:
    • The extensive development work – policies, procedures, training – that will be required to define and implement the neighbourhood officer role.
    • Shifting from primary to priority response – focusing on essential requests for police services and using this as an opportunity to redeploy resources to neighbourhood policing and other priorities.
    • Assigning officers to neighbourhoods for a minimum of three years and making performance in this area the basis for future advancement and promotions, including having new recruits spend their first year in neighbourhood policing.
    • Redrawing boundaries and redesigning/relocating police stations to align with neighbourhoods, including work already underway to amalgamate 54 and 55 divisions as a first step.
  • Innovation: Innovation is another area where new structures and processes will enable culture change. The current culture does not sufficiently compel and reward new thinking, and the journey a new idea takes from inception to implementation needs to be more effective. Sometimes members may not have the skills or time to examine an idea, engage with stakeholders, review best practices and research, and work through resource implications and implementation issues. At other times new ideas may challenge the status quo in ways that make people uncomfortable, which in turn can make progress difficult or impossible, or result in real or perceived risks for individuals.

    To be developed in partnership with eternal experts, an Innovation Hub will make it easier for new ideas to come forward and will support Service members as they work through the necessary analysis, evaluation and planning. Innovation will also become part of the reward and recognition system. Staffing for the Innovation Hub will include Service members and external partners working together to co-create solutions to organizational and community problems through innovation.
  • Embracing external partnerships: External partnerships will contribute to culture change because they involve the Service acknowledging gaps in its own knowledge and expertise, and reaching out to city departments, the academic community, community agencies, and the commercial sector to fill those gaps. The City of Toronto’s Shared Services Project recently noted that the TPS has been collaborating more than any other City agency or corporation on a range of shared services, including facilities, operational and custodial services, real estate services, insurance services, legal services, and procurement. Other examples of progress on this front include:
    • The expansion of FOCUS (Furthering Our Communities – Uniting Services) – a partnership of community organizations, the City of Toronto, and agencies from the policing, justice, health, education and services sectors. The goal is to identify individuals, families, groups or places that are at an elevated risk of victimization or offending, and then respond immediately with coordinated and integrated interventions.
    • A new partnership with Ryerson University focused on developing innovative ways to use open data to create solutions to public safety issues.
    • Engagement with City of Toronto departments, including Change Management and City Planning. Working with the latter will assist the Service in planning for the changing needs of Toronto’s neighbourhoods.
    • Working with the City Manager’s Office and Corporate Intergovernmental and Agency Relations to begin joint planning related to alternative service-delivery for the crossing guard and lifeguard programs.
  • Public requests for proposals for alternative service-delivery submissions issued for the following areas:
    • Maintenance of approved breath instruments and screening devices.
    • Court Services.
    • Parking Enforcement.
    • Records Management.
    • Audit and Quality Assurance
    • Fleet and Materials Management.
    • Employment background screening.

4. Technology and Information Management

In response to our original recommendations, the Service has already begun work on several technology and information management initiatives that will both enable and drive culture change:

  • Data Analytics and Evidence-Based Decision Making: Considerable work has already been completed to build the data analytics capacity to support modernization and change how the Service makes decisions in a number of areas, including providing.
    • Data and information needed for the proposed realignment of divisional boundaries and relocation of police stations that will in turn facilitate the focus on neighbourhood-centric policing.
    • City-wide, divisional, and neighbourhood-level economic, social, demographic and crime related information that will inform how neighbourhood officers understand, relate to, and respond to local needs. This information will also change how the Service engages in planning conversations with all stakeholders, including City of Toronto departments and other service-delivery partners.
    • Data and modelling tools that will allow the Service to make better and more accurate decisions with respect to staffing and workload, including the ability to model and understand the impact of different shift schedules. This information will be critical to understanding the impact of different divisional boundary and police station options and will be shared with the public, the Toronto Police Association, and the Senior Officers’ Organization.

The Service has established data guidelines which provide the foundation for the use and release of data.

  • Connected officers: The “Connected Officer” project is example of new technology as a key enabler of culture change – for example, as an enabler of neighbourhood-centered policing and evidence-based decision making. An action plan has been developed that includes a working team to examine practices in organizations that have similar technology in place. Future steps include identifying the appropriate device, developing systems and software requirements, and testing.
  • Enterprise business intelligence project: This project will change how the Service makes decisions. A number of the Service’s key information systems are essentially separate and disconnected. Significant effort is currently required to access the data in these systems, and to convert them into accurate and timely information for decisionmaking. This project will result in a centralized information management platform – a data warehouse – that will bring the data from these systems together in one place, and support strategic and operational decisions at all levels with accessible, reliable and consistent information.
  • Assessment of information technology services (ITS): The Service has completed the first phase of a two-phased assessment of the ITS business unit. The Phase 1 report made recommendations for restructuring, as well as business process changes. Phase 2 will consider additional changes required within the ITS business unit to identify key benchmarking metrics and other enhancement opportunities. The outcome of this assessment will be a new vision and capabilities for the customer-centric delivery of information technology services within the TPS that enables transformation, sustainability, and efficiency that is aligned to the Strategy Map.
  • Open Data for change: Announced in July 2016, the TPS and Ryerson University are partnering on a Public Safety Open Data competition in which all members of the public are welcome to participate. The purpose of the competition is for Service members to work on innovation project teams within Ryerson’s zone network, including the Social Ventures Zone, using the Service’s open data to create solutions to public safety issues. Through this initiative, the TPS is committing to greater openness and transparency of information, and is working to become a national and international leader in the public release of machine-readable Open Data and Public Safety analytics.
  • Over the next two years, the Service will provide public Open Data releases of datasets that are aligned with the deliverables of other North American police services. We expect these datasets will include current and historical calls for service and occurrence data, arrest data, and other key public safety datasets which will be anonymized for the protection of privacy. All datasets, including any race-based data, will adhere to applicable legislation.
  • Throughout the consultations as well as in deputations, we heard the call for further transparency in the release of data. While we agree with the principle, the Service has legal, privacy and human rights responsibilities. In order to reconcile these views, we have established data guidelines which will provide the foundation for our use and release of data.
  • The Service will collaborate with existing Open Data communities that have an interest in public safety data. It will host community training workshops and symposia as necessary to create awareness on the availability and use of the TPS Open Data by residents, researchers, advocacy organizations and other stakeholders.


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