While the RCMP watchdog may have gone easy on the national force in a review of its conduct during the G8/G20, its Ontario counterpart held nothing back with scathing criticism of how municipal, regional and provincial police behaved at the summit.
The second report in a week about the actions of law enforcement during the June 2010 gathering of world leaders blasted police, saying some “ignored basic rights citizens have under the Charter,” “overstepped their authority” by randomly stopping and searching people and used “excessive force when arresting individuals,” the Office of the Independent Police Review Director found.
Nearly 1,100 people, many peaceful protesters, were arrested during the summit and held in a temporary detention centre with little food and water, no access to a lawyer or private washrooms.
“It is fair to say the level of force used in controlling the crowds and making arrests at Queen’s Park was higher than anything the general public had witnessed before in Toronto,” the 300-page report states.
It notes the Toronto Police Service had little experience in handling such a large scale event, there was no overall plan, and poor communication and integration between Toronto police and other forces acting in support roles.
Included in the 42 recommendations from the watchdog are:
* That governments must allow more time to plan security for such events.
* Officer identification must be prominently displayed.
* Police should better communicate their plans to the public in advance.
Many of the recommendations seem common sense, in hindsight, but frankly, the situation escalated beyond control. They shouldn’t be hard to implement and just other law enforcement groups like the RCMP and the Vancouver Police Department should be examining the ideas to improve their for crowd control tactics.
At least one recommendation, however, seems unrealistic — that police be legally obligated to “disclose potential evidence of police misconduct regardless of whether any public complaint has been made.”
In a job where life and death are ever present, knowing your partner has your back is essential. While officers should be expected to comply with investigations into a peer’s gross misconduct, asking them to rat each other out about “potential” misdeeds sets up a culture of mistrust. That is simply not tenable.
We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by editor Robert Koopmans, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, news editor Mike Cornell or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.