Unapologetic police report on Toronto G20 finds cops were "overwhelmed", "unprepared"
Questions remain about levels of excessive force employed by the police (who were at times abusive, overreaching, and some purposefully not wearing nametags or identification), communication between officers, security planning, training and response, and civil and human rights infractions.
While the chaos was unfolding police were hamstrung by poor communications and co-ordination. Plans were not communicated properly down the chain of command. Incident commanders were not relieved from their regular duties, so they did not have time to participate in the planning process and had to execute plans they didn’t develop. Some operational plans were put in place the day before the summit.Source
The communications system itself also became overwhelmed and radio transmissions became ineffective as too many officers tried to use it at the same time, the report says.
Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair writes "Last June we saw levels of violence we had never seen before in Toronto. People came to the G20 summit, not to engage in debate or discussion or demonstrations, but to infiltrate lawful, peaceful protests and use them as cover to commit vandalism and violence."
Those who attended the G20 with the purpose of violence did not represent the whole, and the report does not adequately tackle the seemingly overreaching and excessive response by the authorities in handling the allegedly unanticipated disturbances.
The Toronto police have also been criticized for poorly managing the detention centre where 1,118 people were sent. Detainees complained of cramped conditions, little to no food or their medical needs being ignored.Source
The detention centre was designed to hold 500 people and was capable of holding up to 750, if required, and the report says 885 were processed there during the G20.
But when hundreds of people were arrested on the night of June 26 into the morning of June 27, "the massive influx of prisoners, all within a matter of hours, overwhelmed the single court services pre-booking officer," the report stated.
This led to some prisoners facing delays of up to 24 hours, while some people arrested on the morning of June 27 were delayed "up to 36 hours before being taken before a justice of the peace.
Police acknowledge in the report that a "breakdown in communication" meant officers were unable to handle the huge influx of prisoners and left them with no central tracking system, which could have determined how long a person had been detained and if they had been fed.
The police came under fire for employing a "kettling" technique, encircling a peaceful crowd of protesters and refusing to let those caught inside to leave for several hours.
All the purported bungling and unpreparedness of the police might be better explained had the price tag for security at the G20 and G8 held that year in Ontario not been nearly 1 BILLION dollars.
The Canadian government disclosed Tuesday that the total price tag to police the elite Group of Eight meeting in Muskoka, as well as the bigger-tent Group of 20 summit starting a day later in downtown Toronto, has already climbed to more than $833-million. It said it’s preparing to spend up to $930-million for the three days of meetings that start June 25.Source
That price tag is more than 20 times the total reported cost for the April, 2009, G20 summit in Britain, with the government estimating a cost of $30-million, and seems much higher than security costs at previous summits – the Gleneagles G8 summit in Scotland, 2005, was reported to have spent $110-million on security, while the estimate for the 2008 G8 gathering in Japan was $381-million.
Even more amazing is that "... beyond these high-level, large and all-encompassing numbers, the Integrated Security Unit that is co-ordinating summit security could not provide an accounting of how the money will be used. Nor is there any indication that a post-summit publication will detail the costs, or provide for a public audit that would indicate whether the money was well spent." Source
In what will go down in history as a shameful violation of civil rights in Canada with 1,100 people having been detained or arrested, "secret laws" being quietly enacted, and with no real answers to important questions coming from police enforcement or the government, couldn’t this type of scenario easily play out again and again?
If answers are not found about why and how this happened, and no one is to be held responsible, the door is wide open for it to happen again.
Premier Dalton McGuinty has said the Ontario government acted with "good intentions" but too much haste when it passed the law and has refused to offer an apology.Source
While the report acknowledges and even highlights policing errors and tactics that beg for improvement, police also congratulate themselves for succeeding in their core mandate, which was to protect the summit sites and delegations.
Credit: Peter J. Thompson/National Post
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