Police in northern Ontario are facing increased threats to their safety and that of their fellow officers as their police chief faces criticism for using the phrase “police state” to describe the new restrictions imposed on them.
Olivier Doucette, the Toronto police chief, said he is concerned about the possibility of a police state, which is defined by the U.S. government as a situation where law enforcement is under attack by an enemy.
In an interview with The Canadian Press, Doucettes response to the police-state fears comes as Ontario and Ottawa have imposed new restrictions on officers, which include banning officers from carrying guns, restricting their access to the internet and forcing them to wear body cameras.
The changes came in the wake of two high-profile police shootings of unarmed men in Toronto.
Doucettes comments on the concerns come amid growing concern in Toronto about the rising threat of police-killer violence in the city, and as Ottawa considers how to respond.
He told the newspaper that the fear is not unfounded.
He said it is the first time he has ever heard of a situation like this, which could lead to the emergence of a ‘police state’ where law-abiding citizens are treated like enemies, and are not allowed to do their jobs.
Doucs comments come amid the ongoing controversy over the use of a controversial video surveillance device by the Ontario Provincial Police to spy on protesters in Toronto and elsewhere.
The device, which allows officers to see images of people they have probable cause to arrest and detain without warrants, was seized by the OPP after an alleged plot to kill protesters in July.
DouCettes response comes a day after Ontario’s chief prosecutor accused the police force of ‘stifling dissent’ in a probe of a 2014 shooting by a Toronto police officer of a man who was shot and killed in an apartment building.
The Ontario Provincial police said Thursday that the use-of-force probe, launched in 2014, is ongoing and no charges will be laid.