**** just got serious
By refusing a police escort, Rob Ford puts the public at risk
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford isn’t a guy who likes to change his mind, or does so easily. Whether that’s out of principle or stubbornness is open to debate — and the answer each person gives will probably reveal more about their political views than Rob Ford’s personality. But there are times when a politician should listen to his critics — not to mention his friends, his family, his allies, his colleagues and maybe an opinion columnist or two. It’s time for Mayor Ford to accept police protection.
There have been threats against Mayor Ford’s life. That’s nothing new for politics, to be sure. And he’s always shaken them off, and refused a police security detail on the grounds that he doesn’t want to take an officer off the streets. “I move forward,” says the Mayor. That’s noble. But on three separate occasions in recent weeks, the police have been summoned by 911 calls to the Mayor’s private residence. Once was the infamous Marg Delahunty
incident, when a CBC comedy crew allegedly spooked the Mayor’s young daughter. Another was a Christmastime domestic dispute
(the Mayor’s rocky marriage is not news). Most recently, on Wednesday, a man was arrested
at Ford’s home for uttering threats — this incident stemmed not from Ford’s public profile, but from a domestic dispute between the man, Scott MacIntyre, and Mayor Ford’s sister.
And each of these 911 calls has
taken officers off the streets. And probably consumed more police resources than would have been required to simply assign him a body guard that likely would have prevented each of these 911 calls from having to be made in the first place.
That’s hypothetical, of course. But it’s more than plausible. If the Mayor had had a police officer right at hand when the CBC crew approached his home, that situation would have resolved itself with no more than some awkward footage of a police officer trying to avoid looking directly into the camera while being asked absurd questions by Marg Delahunty. The Christmas-time incident wouldn’t have required police being called — they would already have been there. And the “security breach” that was MacIntyre’s trespass onto the Mayor’s property could almost certainly have been headed off by the glowering glare of a Glock-and-baton-toting officer of the law.
Instead, in each case, we had 911 dispatchers fielding calls and sending units that were operating in the area of the Mayor’s home. This is a diversion of police resources, and is arguably more disruptive to police operations than simply assigning the Mayor a small group of officers trained for VIP protection. Such officers are available — like any major city, Toronto’s police are from time to time called upon to escort and guard celebrities, foreign dignitaries, government officials and the like. Tapping this available resource will drain fewer resources from the police’s stretched manpower reserves and budgetary resources than constantly having to send units, lights flashing and siren’s wailing, to the Mayor’s home.
Again, the Mayor’s insistence that he go without security and continue to drive himself around the city is noble. It’s yet more proof that he’s willing to lead by example, and that he doesn’t expect anything of city staff or his constituents that he’s not willing to do himself. That kind of real-world appeal is why people voted for him in the first place. But in this case, the Mayor’s good intentions are overriding his better judgment, and the frequent diversions of badly needed police units off general duties can put the public at risk.
His brother wants him to get security. His allies on council want him to get security. His friends are urging him to consider it. And it would leave the city better off, both in terms of public safety and the bottom line. Bending to peer pressure really isn’t the Mayor’s thing, but for his own sake and that of the city, this is an area where he should defer to the wishes of others.
By refusing a police escort, Rob Ford puts the public at risk - National Post