Policing Literacy Initiative

PLI is a group of 20 young leaders bringing new ideas and diverse perspectives to improve police services and community safety in Toronto and abroad.

Learn more about PLI:


The Agenda                                                                  The Toronto Star


The National Post                                              Yale Alumni Magazine

Who We Are

This past summer inspired a groundswell of interest in policing issues and community safety in Toronto. Claims of racial profiling and the practice of “carding” dominated newspaper headlines. The acquittal of George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin put a spotlight on issues of equality under the law around the world. Concerns about youth safety were exacerbated by the tragic killing of Sammy Yatim by a member of Toronto Police Services.

In response to these community concerns, a group of young leaders in Toronto came together to form the Policing Literacy Initiative (PLI) in August 2013. PLI is inspired by the Yale Law School Innovations in Policing Clinic, which the Coordinator of PLI, Jamil Jivani, was a member of.

PLI is a grassroots think tank made up of 20 young leaders from across the city, including many of Toronto's "priority neighborhoods." Most PLI members are in their twenties and come from a diverse range of cultural and professional backgrounds. Included in this group are current university students and young professionals in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. PLI members have long track records of community service contributions that have been recognized by the University of Toronto, United Way City Leaders program, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and many more.

We have met biweekly since August to discuss academic and news articles about policing issues around the world. Our meetings have also featured discussions with representatives of Toronto Police Services (including the Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy team), University of Toronto, Ryerson University, Toronto Community Housing Corporation Board of Directors, Toronto Star, City of Toronto Community Crisis Response Program, African Canadian Legal Clinic, and Toronto Police Services Board.

PLI has also been engaged in substantive advocacy. For example, five members of PLI have joined the Toronto Police Services' Police and Community Engagement Review standing committee to address biased policing. Additionally, PLI members are pushing for reforms to the Ontario citizen complaint process and have participated in an number of policy consultations, such as the Government of Ontario's provincial crime prevention strategy.

What We Need & What You Get

After months of research and exchanging ideas with experts and decision-makers, PLI is developing an advocacy strategy to make Toronto a safer and more equal city. We want these recommendations to be accessible and useful to police and community groups around the world. A central part of this strategy is a media campaign, which will include a short documentary, a PLI website, a series of editorials, and hosting a police-community forum in spring 2014. 

All funds received toward our $7500 goal will go toward creating this media campaign, with the majority of the funds going toward our documentary and the remainder to the PLI website and police-community forum. Dan Epstein, who recently completed "Defenders," will lead the production of the PLI documentary. Dan grew up in Detroit and now resides in Toronto, bringing a varied perspective to his work.

The perks we will offer for your support include: a social media shout out ($10), a personalized thank you letter ($25), a DVD copy of the documentary ($50), shout out in the credits of the documentary  ($100), VIP seating at our documentary screening in Toronto ($250), invitation to participate in an exclusive discussion in Toronto about police-community relations with members of PLI ($500), and producer credit in the documentary and PLI website ($1000).

The Impact of Your Support

In addition to helping make Toronto safer and more equal, the PLI media campaign will create tools for public education and community engagement. The PLI documentary and website will be used by police and community groups in Toronto and abroad to initiate important conversations about community safety. Additionally, our police-community forum will be an unique opportunity to bring together police and community groups, including the experts and decision-makers we've already engaged, to have a conversation about the future of policing in Toronto.

PLI's recommendations will target four key areas of police-community relations: 1) building trust between communities and their police, 2) making citizen complaint processes more effective, 3) addressing concerns over disproportionate contact with police based on race and geography, and 4) the stigma and inequality created by public housing authorities and their community safety policies. Our research indicates these are four priority areas for community safety and our advocacy work has opened up opportunities for us to make a difference in these four areas by advancing new recommendations.

Other Ways You Can Help

In addition to financial contributions, you can be a supporter of our work by spreading the word about our campaign and contacting people who are interested in policing issues around the world. Please send out a link to this page by using the IndieGoGo share tools, tweeting, sharing on Facebook, and emailing your friends and family. 

Team on This Campaign: