For a man who gets to handle weapons on the job, police chief Julian Fantino has quite a temper.In a one-year-retrospective interview in the Toronto Star last weekend, the feisty flatfoot boasts about trying to organize an advertiser boycott of NOW to punish us for criticizing his force. Fantino is still burning over a picture we published of his suburban home to illustrate our belief that too many of Toronto's policy makers -- including the police -- live outside the city they administer.
The migration of American police from the jurisdictions they patrol is pointed to as a cause of the breakdown of policing in the U.S., contributing to the decay of inner cities. It's an issue that deserves consideration without police bullying.
A sugary-sweet Norman Rockwell painting hangs in Fantino's office, a choice that's consistent with his efforts to wrap himself in the flag and paint his detractors as people who "hate the police."
We don't hate the police.
But we believe their role is too important to operate unchecked. With police service board members, city councillors and all other official police watchdogs fair game for the force and its union's tough-guy pressures, effective police scrutiny remains essential.
In a society that dismisses the civil service as bloated, bureaucratic and subject to ridicule, I have always been amazed at the free ride so many are prepared to give the police force.
These are simply civil servants with guns. When they make mistakes, your tax refund isn't late. People die, get shot or do time. Police should welcome our input in carrying out such difficult tasks.
Nothing will be accomplished by a return to Fantino's mistily remembered good old days. Life is more complicated, and we need new solutions to policing problems.
We need a police chief with guts -- the kind of guts it takes to hear hard truths and consider new, challenging ideas.
Instead, we have a bullying blowhard who trades in threats, with a dangerous us-and-them mentality.
Someday Toronto may get the chief and the cops we deserve -- officers who know this city and don't have to hide in patrol cars to police it.