Tuesday, August 18,1998

John Duncanson

p. B1.

Ads to target 'anti-police' politicians

Cop union's campaign will emulate its media attack on SIU

Politicians deemed anti -police will be the target of aggressive ad campaign like the one being run against the province's special investigations unit, the president of the Toronto police union says.

Craig Bromell said his 7,000 members are fed up with being unfairly criticized by politicians who regularly attack the police force without knowing all the facts.

So the union strategy will be to take the association's message -- either through radio, newspaper, or billboards ads -- directly to voters in neighbourhoods represented by those politicians who routinely go after the police, Bromell said.

"We want to make sure that the people in those ridings are properly educated about what these politicians are like," Bromell said in an interview.

Bromell said the union is drawing up a list of politicians, mainly on city council, who have a history of bashing or criticizing the police. But Bromell wouldn't name names, saying the union is still planning its campaign.

Union tactics

Councillor Brian Ashton (Scarborough Bluffs), who has criticized police on certain issues, called the union tactics shocking. "I really am intimidated and frightened by that type of jingoism," Ashton said.

"Politicians or anybody else should always feel comfortable that they can make objective statements about how their security is provided," said Ashton, a former police services board member.

Any campaign aimed at politicians will likely be similar to the one the union is running against the SIU -- the civilian agency that probes incidents such as fatal police chases and shootings.

Last week, the union took out two large ads in The Star and The Toronto Sun condemning the SIU for charging Constables Karl Helimo, 31, and Gerald O'Kane, 27, with dangerous driving.

The two officers were involved in a May 11 pursuit of a stolen van in the city's east end that ended in the death of 73-year-old cyclist Clyde Barnaby.

Following rules

The association said the officers were following the rules and the charges aren't justified. The union said the SIU decision is "just one more instance of going after the police for doing our job within the rules and as we were trained to do it."

The SIU's interim director, Leslie Chapin, said the newspaper ads were misleading and the union isn't aware of all the facts in the case.

But the ads didn't seem to upset Ontario's top cop, Solicitor-General Bob Runciman, who last week defended the association's right to attack the SIU. "I don't have any criticism of them taking their case public. They have a every right to do it," Runciman told reporters at Queen's Park.

This week the police union is expected to begin running radio spots along the same theme as those in last week's newspaper ads. Union officials won't say how much the ad campaign has cost so far.

Toronto Police clippings... [Fiona Stewart]

Created: February 15, 1999
Last modified: February 15, 1999

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