Toronto Police are out of control
The issue of Metro Toronto police wearing a tag that displays their name and or badge number on the outside of their uniform has come to the forefront of discussion again. Last week a film on you tube by local activist, film maker and radio host Daniel Libby featuring this writer at a rally to support the Egyptian uprising has gone viral on the internet. The film features the infamous officer A. Josephs (A.K.A Officer Bubbles). The reason I choose officer Josephs to approach about being one of the half dozen officers there who were not wearing a tag was because he was the only one I knew by sight and could identify by name who were not wearing name or badge numbers that day.
The fact that he refused to recognize me when I politely said “Excuse me Officer” or was openly rude and threatened to arrest me as a member of the public who merely wished to ask a question, is to me all the more reason police officers need to be able to be easily identified by citizens. Also being winter time these officers who did not wear tags were also wearing cold weather head gear and sun glasses that partially covered their faces as well. Other than officer Josephs who has become famous for his open rudeness and distain for the general public none of the other officers that were not wearing tags could be identified.
The Ontario Labor Relations Board has recently turned down a Toronto police union bid to end the mandatory wearing of name tags by uniformed officers. The police union claim that the name tags, which display an officer’s first initial and last name, increase the risk of their being harmed. This however does not explain the excuse for not wearing a badge number either. I can’t help but feel the growing attitudes of the rank and file of the police towards the public is a much greater risk than the name tags ever would be. When the police engage the public in this city, weather a traffic stop, on the street, a protest or rally or even a criminal investigation they are seldom friendly or polite.
After the G-20 in Toronto last June Chief Bill Blair of the Toronto Police Service told a Commons public safety committee that 90 officers will face disciplinary action for failing to wear their ID badge. During committee questioning, Blair said he believed some of the 90 officers were trying to hide their identities. One of the main reasons there were not more charges laid against the perpetrators of the wide scale violence committed on the public was due to the fact that the police officers breaking the law could not be identified. The fact that more than six months later the rank and file are still thumbing their nose at the law and the rules that govern the conduct of the police in this city clearly show that the police are out of control and that Bill Blair as chief cannot control his officers.
The Toronto Police Services Board, a civilian agency that oversees the police force, made name tags mandatory in 2006. The police have appealed this decision and lost and yet still there were many officers spotted at the rally who refuse to comply? After the G-20 Chief Blair’s response to this was to dock the officers a days pay which amounts to a fine of about $300.00 and it now looks like this punishment clearly had no effect at all.
Many people in this city have some serious concerns that we are quickly slipping into a fascist police state here in Canada. The fact that Officer Josephs refused to identify himself that day to me or that About 1,100 people were arrested during the G20 weekend in Toronto, but only 308 were charged. With many of those charges later being dropped, proves that these concerns are well founded.
Our charter of rights and freedoms were and are being blatantly violated and ignored by the Toronto Police Services and this is the main reason why people like me will never give up on calling for a public inquiry into the G-20. Unless the police in Canada’s largest city are brought under control and soon, you may as well hang that charter of rights and freedoms in your bathroom and use it to wipe your butt.
February 6, 2011