G20: Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair Refuses to Apologize For His Part in the G20

Update: see previous posts – May 18, 2012 G20 Summit: We Passively Let Police and Politicians Trample Our Rights, May 18, 2012 G20: G20 Aftermath: Fourth Senior Officer Identified, Chief Blair will Request Disciplinary Hearings, May 18, 2012 G20: 28 Toronto Police Officers & Senior Commanders to be Charged Over G20, May 17, 2012 G20: Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair Must Own Up to G20 Mistakes or Resign, May 16, 2012 G20: G20 Systemic Review Report by Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD), May 15, 2012 G20: Byron Sonne Found “Not Guilty” On All G20 Explosives Charges, May 14, 2012 G20 – RCMP Acted Reasonably at G8 & G20 Summits According to the Public Complaints Commission, March 28, 2012 G20 – Senior Toronto Police Officers Receive Their June 14-28/10 G20 Overtime, March 15, 2012 Kettling – Kettle’em and Control’em, Ok in Europe, March 14, 2012 G20 – As Officer’s Are Unmasked and Finally Identified, Lawsuits Continue to Climb, March 7, 2012 G20 – Toronto Police Pay Paraplegic Man After Human Rights Complaint is Filed, February 24, 2012 G20 – Kelly Pflug-Back Pleads Guilty to 1 Count of Wearing a Disguise with Intent & 7 Counts of Mischief over $5,000., February 22, 2012 ‘Secret’ G20 Law To Be Scrapped, February 14, 2012 Toronto Police Service Senior Officers’ Union “Where is Our Overtime from the June 14-28/10 G20?”, February 8, 2012 G20 – Deaf Man Arrested and Not Provided Professional Interpreters Offered by Canadian Hearing Society, January 25, 2012 Toronto Police Chief Delays the Inevitable, January 22, 2012 Five Officers Should be Charged in G20 Protester’s Arrest, Police Watchdog Says, January 18, 2012 G20 Lawsuit Emerges After Largest Mass Arrest in Canadian History, December 22, 2011 G20 Activist Unapologetic As She Receives a Sentence of 10 Months, December 10, 2011 McGuinty to Declare the1939 Public Works Protection Act Null & Void in the New Year, November 23, 2011 11 G20 Defendants Set Free, November 3, 2011 G20 – Chair of Toronto Police Services Board concerned about G20 Photo’s (June, 2010), October 27, 2011 G20 Arrest for Weapons Charge Results in Acquittal, October 5, 2011 G20 Review by Toronto Police Services Board is Expected to Conclude by March, 2012, August 12, 2011 Toronto Deputy Police Chief Tony Warr Defends Actions of Police During G20 (June, 2010), July 29, 2011 Judge Rules that Man Arrested at G20 Should Have Been Provided Counsel, July 23, 2011 Twenty One (21) Month Sentence for Man Who Set G20 Police Vehicle Ablaze, July 22, 2011 G20 Investigator Wants Law to Ban Disguises After 17 Suspects Unidentified, July 21, 2011 Toronto Police Chief Blair’s Report on the G20 is Deferred, June 25, 2011 G20 Summit Toronto – First Anniversary (June 26 & 27, 2011), June 18, 2011 Harper Falls Short on Toronto Businesses’ G20 Claims, June 10, 2011 G20 – Final Public Hearing for the Toronto Police’s Civilian Review, June 10, 2011 G20 – Another Arrest, June 7, 2011 G20 Update – Who Assaulted Adam? Nooobody!, June 1, 2011 Ottawa Police Enjoy Their Share of the G20 Money Pie, McGuinty to Scrap the Secret G20 Law (1939 Public Works Protection Act), March 31, 2011 The “G20 Bump” Translates into a 60% Increase of Toronto Police Making the 2010 Sunshine List, March 19, 2011 Harper Screws Toronto’s Businesses, March 18, 2011 New G20 Lawsuits Launched Against Toronto Police Board, December 7, 2010 Ontario Umbudsman André Marin Delivers Report on G20 “Caught in the Act”, August 8, 2010 G20 Litigation, August 1, 2010 Damage$ Flowing from Charter Breaches

see source

In an open letter to Torontonians, Police Chief Bill Blair said Friday he accepts responsibility for the actions of his police service and its members during the G20 summit, but stopped short of an apology. Video: Bill Blair on G20 charges

“I will ensure that the lessons we learn during the G20 are incorporated into our procedures, our training and our future response. I am also fully committed to holding police officers of any rank accountable for misconduct,” the chief said.

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair - The Ontario Provincial government introduced a law on April 23, 2009 called the Apology Act, 2009. In that Act, section 2. (1) states " An apology made by or on behalf of a person in connection with any matter (a) does not, in law, constitute an express or implied admission of fault or liability by the person in connection with that matter". There is no legal reason for the Chief of Police to refuse to say "I'm sorry" or to simply state to those who had their Constitutional rights violated by Toronto police during the G20, "I apologize to those people on behalf of the Toronto Police Services".

Porter: We passively let police and politicians trample our rights “I remain committed to the safety of our city and all its citizens. I remain committed to restoring the confidence of the people we are sworn to serve and protect.”

Blair announced Friday he will take the rare step of bringing in a retired judge and former Crown attorney for the G20-related misconduct hearings. The hearings will be open to the public, as is standard.

He also said he brought eight more applications to the police services board Friday, requesting permission to lay disciplinary charges against officers for their roles during the summit.

About 15 officers will face disciplinary hearings, as some cases involve more than one. They include officers in the high-profile Adam Nobody case, a source told the Star.

The Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) has identified five officers who should be charged in the Nobody case.

DiManno: Why won’t police chief Bill Blair say he’s sorry for police actions during G20?

Eight constables have already been charged under the Police Services Act for alleged G20 misconduct, bringing the total number to about 23.

When the process is complete, 28 frontline officers are expected to face disciplinary action, as well as two senior officers, although it’s unclear whether they were among Friday’s group.

The charges stem from investigative reports completed by the OIPRD, the province’s police complaints watchdog. They “substantiate” allegations of misconduct, meaning the investigators believe there’s enough evidence to prove misconduct occurred.

Police hearings act much like a court of law, where officers may defend themselves against charges levied against them. If the charges — which are not criminal — are upheld, penalties range from docked pay to losing their jobs. Charges filed so far include the use of unnecessary force and unnecessary arrest.

Earlier this week, OIPRD director Gerry McNeilly released a scathing systemic review of the G20, slamming police for poor planning, breaching Charter rights and using excessive force.

The June 2010 summit, which saw a group of black-clad vandals wreak havoc on the downtown core, also resulted in the largest mass arrest in Canadian history.

As revealed in Friday’s Star, the OIPRD has also “substantiated” allegations of misconduct against three senior officers, including Supt. Mark Fenton, the commanding officer who ordered mass arrests and the “unlawful” kettling at Queen St. W. and Spadina Ave. on the final day of the summit.

The other two officers are Supt. Michael Farrar and Staff. Insp. Frank Ruffolo, who were in charge of the prisoner processing facility on Eastern Ave. Both are now retired and so can not face disciplinary hearings.

A fourth senior officer, Insp. Gary Meissner, will face disciplinary action stemming from alleged G20 misconduct.

When reached Friday, Meissner said he has not yet received an official notice of a disciplinary hearing but has been “informally” notified.

It is unclear what allegations of misconduct have been made against Meissner. He politely declined to comment at this time.

“Unfortunately, I can’t,” he said. “I’m sorry, I’m not in a position to do so.”

During the summit, Meissner was the public order unit alpha section commander in charge of deploying the long range acoustical device (LRAD), which can send verbal warnings and also control crowds with pain-inducing tones.

According to the McNeilly’s review, orders were given for the LRAD to be used at 5:43 p.m. on June 26, 2010 at Queen’s Park, shortly after the breakout of violence led by black-clad vandals. Five minutes later, Meissner was making arrests, according to a special operations director quoted in the report.

The report noted, however, that many people failed to hear crowd warnings from the LRAD. If G20 planners and commanders were relying on the LRADs for crowd control, the devices should have been used “more times, in more directions, and in more locations around Queen’s Park.”

“It appears the use of the LRAD was more about using the new piece of equipment rather than a method to have real and meaningful communication with the protesters,” the report said.

Meissner also deployed the LRAD on Queen St. W. at 6:26 p.m. that day — this time, without permission, according to the report.

“I understand why they wanted us to ask the MICC (major incident command centre) for permission to use it,” Meissner told the police watchdog. “But, I didn’t ask for it on Queen St. because I was told to arrest everybody and to my way of thinking as a site commander, I needed to assure myself and I needed to prove to everybody else that this was a compliant crowd.

“As a consequence, I stepped out of the line and did not ask for permission to use the LRAD, but used it to prove a point,” he continued. “And the point was that if you are involved in an engagement where, in fact, the crowd can hear the message clearly and is willing to comply, then all they want is direction.”

Prior to the G20 summit, a Superior Court judge imposed restrictions on use of the LRAD, noting it “requires very senior command authorization.”

Meissner, who is based out of 51 Division, was also site commander for the peaceful evictions at St. James Park last year during the Occupy Toronto movement. Many protesters there praised the efforts of police for reaching a peaceful resolution in a temporary standoff over the library yurt.

In a statement Friday afternoon, the Toronto Police Services Board said it is “acutely aware” the OIPRD’s systemic report has raised “considerable and significant issues” about G20 policing.

“The board wants to reassure the public that it is committed to ensuring that all recommendations made in that report respecting police accountability and responsibility will be thoroughly reviewed and addressed as expeditiously as possible,” the statement said.

The board also said it is awaiting the Independent Civilian Review of the G20 in late June, led by retired judge John Morden, which will focus on the role of civilian oversight.

“The board is very serious about discharging its responsibilities in the public interest. To this end, it has already begun a review of the recommendations of Mr. McNeilly.”

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