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Loaded Police Warning - Repost from Toronto Star

Jan. 24, 2004. 01:00 AM
Loaded police warning

Perhaps Rick McIntosh, head of Toronto's police union, wasn't making a threat when he warned politicians they would be "playing with a loaded gun" if they tried stopping his group from endorsing election candidates.

Perhaps he used the words in a bid to be colourful not to intimidate.

If so, then he has utterly failed to get his point across.

Politicians, and the public they represent, have every right to feel threatened when the confrontational leader of a 7,000-member police union warns of a "loaded gun."

It's hard to imagine a worse thing to say now in a city where there's mounting worry that police have become a law unto themselves, defying the citizens they're meant to serve.

It's hard to imagine a worse thing to say in a city rocked by a recent police corruption scandal where an RCMP probe of rogue officers allegedly was hampered by a "Blue Wall" of silence.

It's hard to imagine a worse thing to say in a city where racial profiling by police is dismissed by police leaders who refuse to accept the extent and reality of this corrosive problem.

It's hard to imagine a worse thing to say when a leaked internal memo targets the civilian head of the board overseeing police.

Rather than a voice of reason and restraint, improving the image of officers in these troubled times, McIntosh has issued what sounds like a threat of the very worst sort.

And why? He wants to continue making election endorsements even though Ontario's Police Services Act forbids officers from mixing their job with political activities.

If McIntosh didn't mean to intimidate, his words reveal a stunning lack of political skill and an inability to make his point. Such clumsy leadership poorly serves his members.

If these comments actually were meant as a threat, they reveal a bullying approach that has no place in modern policing and no place at the helm of a powerful union.

Either way, McIntosh's performance is unacceptable. The many fine police officers McIntosh represents, and the citizens of this city, all deserve far better.