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Police Chief Bill Blair defends his force, points out policing flaws in G20 After-Action Review

TORONTO, Ont. – Nearly a year after the city’s downtown core was damaged by a group of vandals at the G20 Summit, Toronto’s police chief has released a report examining how the force handled their work at the global gathering.

Given they only had six months to prepare, Chief Bill Blair applauded his force throughout the 70-page document, but also took the time to examine what went wrong.

“This report takes a hard look at what happened,” Blair says in the report. “Many things we did very well. Some things we did not.”

The report on policing contains ten recommendations to help the force improve in the future, but also commends the work the force did in supporting the RCMP and providing security.

The recommendations highlight the fact that the Toronto police did not have the speed or mobility to prevent riots from escalating once they began.

One controversial technique which was used to aid officers in doing this was the “kettling” technique, where officers boxed in hundreds of protestors in a certain area for at least several hours. Toronto Police have since said they will no longer use the technique.

One major reason for stopping usage of the kettling technique is that is does not allow innocent people an avenue to escape arrest.

“(One recommendation is that) the TPS develop and implement policies and procedures to identify, isolate, and extract individuals in a crowd who are believed to pose a threat to public safety.”

The chief also recommended creating better strategies to deal with tactics of groups like the notorious Black Bloc, who caused serious issues for officers during the protests.

Overcrowding and delays in releasing detainees were also addressed in the report, which calls for a better strategy to make sure temporary jails run more effectively in the future.

On the other hand, in defending his officers and their work, Blair called the levels of violence seen in the protests unheard of.

“Last June, we saw levels of violence we had never seen before in Toronto. People came to the G20 Summit, not to engage in debate or discussion or demonstrations, but to infiltrate lawful, peaceful protests, and use them as cover to commit vandalism and violence,” Blair notes in the report.

Blair’s assessment comes only one day after the civilian review into policing at the G20 summit moved into its next phase.

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