Wednesday, August 19, 1998


p. A18.

Police union bullying

The Toronto Police Association is widening its attack on its critics. Last week it launched an ad campaign accusing the Special Investigations Unit, the province's police watchdog, of punishing officers for doing their job. Now it has served notice that it will direct the same treatment at Toronto councillors it deems to be anti-police. They, too, will be the subject of hostile radio, newspaper or billboards ads.

Association president Craig Bromell said the union is drawing up a "fairly short list" of Toronto politicians.

We don't dispute the association's right to take out ads to buy billboard space. How it spends its members' dues is up to the union leadership.

But we are troubled by the association's attitude. The ads are designed to cow police critics into silence and whip up public sympathy for the men and women in blue. The timing -- in the emotional aftermath of the funeral of Constable Bill Hancox -- is expedient to say the least.

Unfortunately, there is every possibility the ads may have the desired effect on some municipal politicians who -- lacking the stomach for such a fight -- will fall silent on policing issues.

This would be extremely worrisome. Councillors must not allow themselves to be intimidated. Neither should the SIU.

We expect city councillors to be fair watchdogs over the actions of our officers, not blanket apologists to protect society.

Bromell claims to be the defender of the rank-and-file officers. Indeed, his tactics may play well among the 7,000 officers and civilian employees of the Toronto police force who belong to the association.

Yet a strategy that invites fear of police rather than respect is a flawed one. When police behave like bullies, everyone loses.

Toronto Police clippings... [Fiona Stewart]

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

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