—The number of police constables found guilty of discreditable conduct for their actions during the Toronto G20 summit to date, out of 32 officers charged with offences, according to the Star. A disciplinary hearing for the most senior police officer charged for his role in that weekend’s mayhem, superintendent David (Mark) Fenton, begins today.
More than three years after the fact, the courts are still busy settling scores from that one weekend in June 2010 when Barack Obama came to town and spied on everyone. (You may know it as the G20 Summit.)
The Canadian Press reports that Constable Babak Andalib-Goortani was sentenced to 45 days in jail for using excessive force on a protester named Adam Nobody. Justice Louise Botham found Andalib-Goortani’s claims that Nobody was resisting arrest to be unconvincing. The officer is out on $7500 bail pending an appeal.
It’s unusual for Toronto police officers to receive jail sentences for things they do while on duty. Constable Glenn Weddell, for instance, faced similar assault charges after a run-in with a protester during the G20 weekend, and was acquitted in May. The difference in Andalib-Goortani’s case? Maybe the fact that there was decent video of the assault. Call it iPhone justice.
Adam Josephs, the internet-famous “Officer Bubbles,” is in the news again, but for keeping the police force accountable rather than starring in satirical cartoons. The Toronto Star reports that Josephs was a witness for the Independent Police Review director’s recent (and scathing) report, helping to identify the officers who allegedly roughed up freelance journalist Jesse Rosenfeld while he was reporting on the kettling incident outside the Novotel Hotel. According to TVO’s Steve Paikin, who was at the scene, two police officers refused to recognize Rosenfeld’s “alternative media pass” and restrained him, while a third punched him in the stomach and elbowed him in the back. Thanks to the witness statements and Josephs’ identification, Constable Michael Martinez will face a police tribunal hearing for using “unnecessary force.” Justice! Though Paikin and Josephs reportedly had a chat about Josephs’ Bubbles infamy when they ran into each other outside the Princess of Wales Theatre, we’re hoping for a reunion of both high-profile witnesses on The Agenda. [Toronto Star]
Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair was initially defensive about Gerry McNeilly’s scathing Independent Police Review report on G20 security, but Blair amended that response in an open letter to the people of Toronto issued Friday. The police chief admitted there were “serious deficiencies” in the force’s handling of protesters: “I fully acknowledge that there were things that were not done well. We have learned from these shortcomings… As the chief of police, I accept responsibility for the actions of the Toronto Police Service and its members.” No, Blair didn’t exactly apologize (as some have insisted he ought to) or offer to step down. But he did recognize there were problems, claimed responsibility and made eight more applications to the Police Services Board to lay disciplinary charges against officers (on top of the hearings already set for eight constables facing unlawful arrest and use of unnecessary force charges). With those misconduct hearings set to be open to the public, and Justice John Morden’s independent civilian review slated for June, we imagine Blair is in for more uncomfortable media scrutiny this summer. [National Post]
Now that the Independent Police Review Director’s report on G20 policing has been released, both top brass and front-line officers will be facing disciplinary charges—nearly two years after the crackdown on protesters. The IPR director investigated 207 complaints against police, and a little over half of those (107, to be exact) led to disciplinary charges, 96 of which were deemed to be serious. The police review office recommended disciplinary tribunals for commanders with the Toronto Police Service (it’s still too early in the process to release names and numbers, but the charges will affect no more than six commanders). And it’s not just high-ranking officers who could get fingered: the director also ordered charges against 25 rank-and-file officers. So far, eight constables (Vincent Wong, Blair Begbie, Alan Li, Donald Stratton, Michael Kirpoff, Ryan Simpson, Jason Crawford and Michael Martinez) will face the disciplinary tribunal in June. Which should mean we’ll be heading into the third consecutive summer of G20 coverage. [Globe and Mail]
Another long-awaited report on G20 policing—the second this week—is out, and it details some egregious behaviour, including civil rights violations, the use of excessive force and some really bad planning. In the report, Independent Police Review director Gerry McNeilly writes that police unlawfully stopped and searched people on the street, and that the kettling at Queen and Spadina was “unreasonable, unnecessary and unlawful.” He also criticizes the force’s mass arrests and miserable makeshift detention centre on Eastern Avenue. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
The OPP, the Toronto police and the RCMP may all have been blamed for the “kettling” tactics at the G20 protest that launched lawsuits and had Amnesty International crying foul, but a new report suggests that the usual suspect, “confusion,” was to blame (well, more so than the RCMP anyway). The Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP has spent the past year looking into the Mounties’ role in G20 policing. It has found that the Major Incident Command Centre, run by the Toronto police, was in charge of police tactics outside the summit centre, though OPP commanders were in charge of the front-line operation at Queen West and Spadina when the RCMP showed up to help cordon off the site. Apparently, kettling isn’t part of the RCMP playbook, but the Mounties deferred to the MICC while their commander searched for the OPP officer in charge for two hours, and was eventually told that the MICC wanted “everyone arrested.” Still confused over who’s to blame? There’s another report coming next month from former justice John Morden that should answer a lot of questions about the actions of all the forces involved. [Globe and Mail]
Does Rob Ford have a real plan for the police (aside from offering his unconditional love and support)?
By now, you’ve likely heard—over and over and over—about Toronto’s particularly low homicide rate in 2011, which dropped to a 25-year low of just 47 murders, down from 62 in 2010. Sure, the numbers fell on the current mayor’s watch, but over at Spacing Toronto John Lorinc argues credit should actually be given to David Miller, Bill Blair, the provincial Liberals and a unique approach to preventing crime—a touchier, feelier method that wouldn’t resonate with a cop-loving conservative like Rob Ford.