Retired Toronto Police officer Daryl Monaghan
Credits: VERONICA HENRI/QMI AGENCY
Or do the policing powers that be believe it's better for us that we do not know the truth?
Whatever it is, the notion the June 2 double shooting murder at the Eaton Centre was "isolated" has been scoffed at, laughed at and debunked.
As Chris Doucette reports, the alleged shooter and the two who were slain had both gang ties and violent backgrounds.
To suggest that it was just one of those things that happened was ludicrous, and for many who know the street, insulting since there has been knowledge of downtown gang tensions and concerns of pay back and retribution for more than a month.
So why was there so much effort to spin this away from what it was?
"The truth, as described or communicated by the police, is nothing less than a marketing ploy as seen on any cable TV infomercial," explains retired 30-year Toronto Police Det.-Sgt. Darryl Monaghan of his take on it from experience.
He calls it "smoke and mirrors" where "only the police are allowed to know the truth and it's best we don't know so we can feel safe. It's the Big Daddy approach."
It's text-book crisis communication.
"The police are experts at selling the public a product (your safety)," he said. "The truth to the police is nothing less than what they can make you believe."
And this, he said, is not meant to be bad thing but to help ensure people don't panic.
However, there are times when people don't easily have the wool pulled over their eyes. A shooting right inside the Eaton Centre in a year where there have been 144 shooting occurrences, 35% more than this time last year, would be one of those times.
"A better way to handle it would have been for the brass to say this was violence related to gang activities that moved into a Eaton Centre and that police, the courts and government is doing its very best to stop it from ever happening again," said one guns and gang copper. "I understand why it was handled the way it was but it's just not the best way to go anymore."
People are too plugged in today. They know what's real and what's not real. Credibility is vital.
It will be up to Chief Bill Blair to decide if he wants to address the misleading statements from the Sunday press conference. To be fair, he was right on the mark with his comment Saturday by describing what transpired as "outrageous." Blair, perhaps leaning on lessons learned from G20 evidence-table news conference, didn't get into this spin game.
And the chief has strong views on house arrest.
In fact, reacting to the heinous murders of Saramma Varughese, 75, and Susan John, 43, by an alleged suspect under house arrest, he told me in 2007 that "I don't think house arrest works for violent people" since "I don't think violent people pay the least bit of attention to it."
The chief felt "the best way to protect society is to keep them in secure custody."
Now that there has been several shootings since June 2, including a guy being hit with at least eight slugs Monday, there's no point in sugar coating it. People can handle, and deserve to know, the truth of how many violent offenders are on house arrest and what controls the courts have imposed on them?
They also know there are a lot of illegal guns on the street and way more than just one idiot prepared to use them.