Police chief says Pride behind on planning for parade security
Sandie Benitah, CP24.com
Published Wednesday, February 22, 2017 11:16PM EST
Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders says Pride is behind on planning for security for the annual event.
Saunders told CP24 he usually hears from Pride organizers about security in October but so far, he’s had no word on what the group has planned.
The chief announced last week that Toronto police would respect a vote conducted at Pride Toronto’s Annual General Meeting in January that saw a majority of the membership say they were in favour of banning police floats at the parade this June.
Last summer, members of Black Lives Matter- Toronto staged a sit-in protest at the parade to draw attention to the fact that black members of the community don’t feel safe in the presence of police. The group had a list of demands, including that police be excluded from participating in the parade.
Though officers won’t be part of the celebrations, police will still be in charge of security for the event.
Saunders said during an episode of ‘The Chief’ Wednesday night that he believed the issue of police participation has been a “distraction” to organizers.
“Normally we get the (security) process going in October for the following year,” he said. “We have yet to receive anything.”
He said part of the challenge officers face is managing security for a month’s worth of events in the city.
“Don’t forget (June is) now Pride month there are a lot of itineraries and a lot of security issues that have to be looked at but the only way we can start addressing security issues is by knowing exactly what is going to be taking place,” he said.
Saunders said he has reached out to Pride’s new executive director to get the conversation going.
Despite the delays, the chief said he didn’t think Pride events were being put in jeopardy this summer.
“No, we will have to fast track but I think we need to get going sooner rather than later and do what we all can do to make sure that it’s a very safe and fun month in Toronto and make sure we’re represented well on the world landscape,” he said.
As far as where the relationship stands between members of Pride and members of Toronto police, Saunders said their exclusion from the parade doesn’t mean the relationship is broken.
“We’re taking a step back. It doesn’t mean we’re going to stop relationship building, we’re going to enhance the relationships we have,” he said.