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G20 Report: Massive Police Infighting Revealed

Dirty Laundry Aired; G20 Police Forces At Each Others Throats

by Geordie Gwalgen Dent

G20 Report: Massive Police Infighting Revealed

Toronto - Fights, mis-information, insubordination, and total breakdown.

A grim picture has emerged from the G20 police report released by the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD).  It shows regional police forces at loggerheads both in the run-up to, and during, the G20. It also shows rampant internal fighting in the Toronto Police Services (TPS) between officers and management.

For those who envisioned a mass, well-crafted, police-machine protecting G20 leaders, what comes across instead is a total gong-show.

Over 21,000 security personnel were used during the G20 - 5,000 RCMP; 3,000 Canadian Military Forces; 6,200 Toronto Police Services Officers; 3,000 OPP officers plus officers from forces and locations all over the country.

But early on a complicated command structure and jurisdictional issues reared their head between the RCMP and TPS.

Allegations from Toronto police managment are rife in the report that the RCMP were refusing to cooperate.  

When trying to get security cameras in Queens Park, the TPS G20 Planning Chief told the OIPRD, "That fell through.  We couldn't get the support to have that done through the RCMP, and we certainly weren't in a position to be able to set that up, so that didn't happen."

Deputy Chief Anthony Warr had tried to get the RCMP to delegate power to guard the G20 fence perimeter as he felt expanded powers were needed jurisdictionally to do so.  Warr told the OIPRD "We could not get authority [to set up the security perimeter] delegated from the RCMP…I still don't understand why."

This lack of authority had major consequences, namely being one of the driving forces for the Ontario government to pass the disastrous amendment of the Public Works Protection Act which lead to the '5-meter rule' fiasco.

But the allegations went both ways.  

An operational command centre was set up at Pearson Airport for policing during the G20 (called the Toronto Area Command Centre).  However, during planning, Toronto Police decided to set up a command centre under their own jurisdiction - dubbed the Major Incident Command Centre (MICC). A 'Unified Command Centre' in Barries was suppose to oversee both and coordinate actions and information between all the command centres including one in Peel.

According to the RCMP assistant commissioner, there were numerous  communication problems with MICC.  The 'Unified Command Centre' had trouble "getting any information" from the Toronto MICC.

Overall, "it was more of an issue trying to get information form the MICC on the issues surrounding public order,"  he said referring to TPS actions in relation to protests.

Controlling the fenced zone itself (dubbed the Interdiction Zone) was also a major problem.  RCMP and TPS fought over who had control with the TPS asking about the RCMP taking control around 11pm on the Saturday of the G20.  Mass protests and arrests were still occurring.  For reasons not explained in the report The RCMP refused control at 2:15am and finally took over at 5:30am in the morning.

While problems between the RCMP and TPS were raised throughout the OIPRD report, they pale in comparison between the number of TPS officers throwing each other under the bus.

According to the OIPR Director, "Communication within the MICC and between the MICC field officers broke down often."  

Major problems were constantly raised about officers not following orders, pulling rank and micromanaging their departments.

According to TPS Planning Chief Superintendent Russell, a number of officers refused to accept expertise from subordinates: "In a perfect world when you know the individual that you're dealing with, if they happen to be of a subordinate rank but have the expertise to be able to be in charge, we should be able to accept that, but I think it might be difficult for some people to do that."

Comments in the report also indicate that  Incident Night Shift Commander Superintendent Fenton - in the upper levels of command behind Dept Warr and Chief Blair and now being charged under the Police Services Act -  rode roughshod over the the people responsible for operations.

According to the Operations Chief, Fenton was just "sort of passing information" to those below him without any consultation or independence to those below him on the Sunday of the G20.  The Operations Chief stated that Fenton had told him, "You control these guys and I control these guys" which was " counter to the Command model.  I had no input with the Public Order Units (the police in charge of protester control) or any discussions with the special investigations operator."

While many of the officers were simply following orders, this kind top-down approach lead some officers on the ground to revolt.

A Section Commander of at Queen and Spadina on Saturday disobeyed command to "arrest everybody" and wait for permission to use the LRAD communication system.  "At one point I was ordered to mass arrest by the MICC, and I did not," he said.  Instead of mass arrests or kettling, everyone was allowed to disperse.

While a number of officers in the report are quoted complaining of poor training, bad orders, or "maniacal" superiors, one of the most interesting exchanges from interviews are the accounts related to the Queen and Spadina kettling - a public relations nightmare for the TPS.

Testimony between Superintendent Fenton (Night Incident Commander; 3rd in command); Deputy Assistant Warr (2nd in Command) and Police Chief Blair differs in important respects.

According to Fenton, after protesters had been kettled for two and a half hours, Deputy Warr ordered that all protesters be released unconditionally. Fenton told the OIPRD that when he argued that there could be vandals in the crowd, Warr "advised to release them from the PCC [the detention centre on Eastern Av.] with a record of arrest."

Warr's account stated that he ordered that everyone be released unconditionally.   But nothing in the report backs up the claim that he allowed arrests to continue and with protesters to be released from the detention centre.

Meanwhile, Chief Blair stated he asked Deputy Warr to ensure the protesters were released.

Twice.

When it had not happened by 10pm - 4 hours after protesters and bystanders had been initially kettled -  Blair gave what he called his only "operational order"  all weekend - that all protesters be released immediately.

G20 problems aside, infighting continued after the G20.

The RCMP was heavily criticized for awarding private security contracts for the G20 to Contemporary Security Canada, a private security company.  As the G20 approached, concerns about the objectivity of the bidding process were raised by other security firms.  As it turns out the company didn't even have a license to operate in Ontario.

Almost eight months later, the company was charged with six offences by the Ontario Provincial Police for not having a license.
 


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