There are many elements in the response to the Danforth slaughter in Toronto worth consideration, some involving communications with the public, some on the various debates that are arising. Here are just three.
The Special Investigations Unit (SIU)
Ontario’s SIU is called in when a police officer shoots a civilian. In the greater part of such episodes — bank robberies, gang arrests etc. — this is entirely a good thing. Was the fired shot necessary? Did the police overreact?
In the far more abnormal circumstances of the mass shooting on the Danforth, the insistence on this protocol took on preposterous dimensions. The SIU role was prioritized over the investigation itself for the first two or three days. The chief of police held back on even minimal explanation or reports to the public until the SIU completed its review — all of this in an event that everyone described as “shaking the entire city” — leaving the public in a deep valley of officially enforced ignorance, the chief a sideline spokesman during the most horrific episode of its kind that Toronto has perhaps ever seen.
What, of this outrage, was there for the SIU to investigate? If police had arrived at the scene of a man, armed and carrying enough ammunition to make a full night of mayhem and murder, already having shot 14 people, killing two of those — one aged 18, one 10 years old — and then did NOT shoot him, absolutely as soon as they could, there would infallibly be a need for an investigation.
On the actual night however, the shooter was shot dead (as it turns out, he was felled by his own gun, the CBC has reported, quoting a police source). Either way, there was no possible “fault” to be determined. He was dead, and therefore further maimings and deaths were prevented. And which party was responsible, police or shooter, while not irrelevant, was one of the lesser considerations, by far, in the investigation of the entire incident. It was at best a purely secondary, not lead, matter.
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