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August 9, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 9, 2013

OFL applauds Ombudsman probe into police response to violent situations

(TORONTO, ON) – The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) applauds yesterday’s announcement from Ontario Ombudsman André Marin that his office will be conducting an extensive probe into police guidelines in the wake of the fatal shooting of Toronto teen Sammy Yatim. Following this announcement, Madeleine Meilleur, Ontario Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, announced a Use of Force Review to examine officer training, equipment and reporting on force incidents.

“We are pleased that the Ombudsman is looking for the root causes behind this tragedy. This is precisely what the OFL called for after the shooting last week,” said OFL President Sid Ryan. “Sammy Yatim wasn’t just killed by a volley of bullets on July 27, he was killed by a police response that failed from top to bottom.”

On July 31, the OFL issued a media release calling the Yatim shooting the result of a “total breakdown in the policing system” and demanding an independent investigation into police training, policies and practices from the highest levels of decision-making right down to the front line response. The OFL statement asked why the recommendations of a ground-breaking 2002 report of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations, which was co-sponsored by the Toronto Police Service, were never followed. The report, titled “Saving Lives: Alternatives to the Use of Lethal Force by Police,” contained recommendations covering everything from changing police attitudes to crisis containment and de-escalation of violent confrontations.

“We are glad to see the Ombudsman connecting this case to similar tragedies across the province,” said OFL Executive Vice-President Irwin Nanda. “We cannot continue to treat each police shooting as an accident or anomaly while the bodies are piling up. We have to follow the patterns and implement solutions so that history doesn’t keep repeating itself.”

“We are hopeful that a full investigation into police training, guidelines and everything in between can ensure that this tragedy finally brings lasting changes so that Sammy’s life wasn’t lost in vain,” said Nanda.

Concerned community members will hold a rally at Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square at Noon on Tuesday, August 13, 2013, followed by a march to the Toronto Police Services Board at 40 College Street. The OFL will be co-sponsoring a media conference with families of victims of several police shootings at 10:00 am Tuesday, prior to the rally, at the offices of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations at 2 Carlton Street, Suite 1001.

The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For information, visit www.OFL.ca and follow the OFL on Facebook and Twitter: @OFLabour.

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For further information:

Joel Duff, Communications Director, OFL: 416-707-0349 (cell)    *FRENCH/ENGLISH*

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  • André Marin
  • Irwin Nanda
  • Madeleine Meilleur
  • Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services
  • Ontario Ombudsman
  • Sammy Yatim
  • Sid Ryan
  • Urban Alliance on Race Relations (UARR)
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