Security plans for this summer's Pan American Games will involve a "combined environment" of police forces and private security, says Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, but he is giving assurances that if an incident occurs in the city, whoever fills his shoes will be the one in charge.
Chief Blair, whose term ends this spring, gave that reassurance to members of the Toronto Police Services Board on Thursday after some pointed questions from Mayor John Tory, a member of the board. Given the city's experience during the G20 summit, when protesters clashed with police, Mr. Tory said he wanted to be clear about who would be in charge – calling documents presented to the board Thursday on the chain of command the kind of "alphabet soup" that makes "your eyes glaze over."
Board members were shown a chart mapping out the "Command and Control" organization for the Games. It included several boxes at the top connected by dotted lines to a "Unified Command Centre" and a "Main Operations Centre." Boxes below – also connected with dotted lines – included the "Major Incident Command Centre," "City of Toronto Emergency Operations Centre" and "Deputy Chief [Mark] Saunders" – the only individual named.
"Who's in charge?" Mr. Tory asked after the presentation.
Deputy Chief Saunders said there would be no "blurred lines" and described the organization as "multi-layered."
Mr. Tory asked whether the deputy chief was in charge, since his name was on the chart, but was told each box represented more than one individual.
"I report to the chief and the chief will be ultimately responsible," the deputy chief said.
Chief Blair said the chart showed the operational command, but that the chief is ultimately responsible "24-7"
"That's all I wanted to hear the chief say," Mr. Tory said.
After the meeting, Chief Blair said the Games are a much different type of event from the G20 summit. "We are working in a combined environment with other policing and emergency and public safety providers, including the private sector," he said.
Mr. Tory said one of the lessons from the G20 summit was that "some thought that it wasn't clear when events happened who was in charge.
"I think it was clear by the end of the discussion today that the chief is going to be in charge," he said. "I just wanted him to make it clear, which he did, and I'm happy with that."