May 16, 2012, Chief Bill Blair comments on the scathing G20 (OIPRD) report at police headquarters in downtown Toronto.
Credits: STAN BEHAL/QMI AGENCY
TORONTO -- In the wake of a scathing report from an independent civilian police watchdog, the city's top cop once again acknowledges the G20 Summit could have been handled better.
But Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair still doesn't feel he needs to apologize for any mistakes made or the actions of his officers during that tumultuous weekend two years ago.
"I know what my responsibility is here," Blair said as he faced a swarm of media at headquarters Wednesday. "My responsibility is to ensure accountability in the actions of the police and I'm doing that."
He said it's also his job to learn from the experiences of the G20 and ensure similar future operations are handled better.
Tommy Taylor, who was among the 1,100 or so citizens detained without charges during the G20, joined the throng of reporters and he pleaded for Blair to rethink his reluctance to apologize.
"I need an apology from you," Taylor said. "Please, apologize chief."
But Blair refused to bite.
Instead, he repeatedly pointed out the conclusions drawn by the Office of the Independent Police Review (OIPRD) Director Gerry McNeilly in his extensive report are only allegations; they have yet to be tested before a disciplinary hearing.
"Those hearings will evaluate the evidence, the facts, of his investigation," Blair said. "That will all be done in the context of a tribunal, according to the rule of law, and those facts will get a proper hearing."
So far only about 20 of the 19,000 or so officers who policed the streets during the G20 face charges.
But the OIPRD report recommends hundreds more face Police Service Act charges, including some senior officers.
"I just want to assure all the people of Toronto that the police service, and their chief, are quite prepared to hold people accountable for misconduct if misconduct is proven on the basis of evidence given before a tribunal," Blair vowed.
"Everyone, regardless of rank, from constables right up to the chief, everyone is responsible for their conduct."
The chief said he must seek permission from the Toronto Police Services Board before any tribunals can go ahead because the complaints are beyond the statute of limitations.
"I anticipate I will receive that permission," Blair said.
The chief also commended McNeilly's efforts. He pointed out several times that the OIPRD report includes plenty of positives about the police, who he reminded were up against "unprecedented" challenges while providing security during the summit.
"Mr. McNeilly has said is that overwhelmingly the vast majority of the officers conducted themselves quite appropriately, quite professionally," Blair said. "And he says generally the policing was very well done."