Ford Didn't Berate Toronto 911 Staff: Police Chief
Toronto police Chief Bill Blair has waded into the controversy surrounding Mayor Rob Ford and his 911 calls earlier this week.
In a statement released late Friday afternoon, Blair is adamant that the mayor did not call 911 operators "bitches" as was reported by CBC News on Thursday.
"The content of those conversations has been misrepresented by what are claimed to be 'several anonymous sources,' presumably from within the [Toronto Police Service], in which case I have to set the record straight. I have listened to the three emergency calls. The mayor did not use the word 'bitches,' attributed to him by those 'several anonymous sources,' " the statement reads.
Blair goes on to say that "the mayor did not describe himself as the original account claimed."
The account Blair is referring to is a CBC News report that said the mayor turned on the dispatcher involved in one of his calls and said: "You … bitches! Don't you f--king know? I'm Rob f--king Ford, the mayor of this city!"
Blair said he was taking the unusual step of commenting on the calls because "serious allegations have been made about what was said during a series of three calls involving the mayor, and whether there was any abuse of the 911 service."
The root of the controversy was an attempt by the satirical CBC program This Hour Has 22 Minutes to interview Ford as he left his home Monday morning.
In a statement released Thursday, Ford explained what he did after being "ambushed" by the television crew. "Concerned for my safety and that of my family, I called 911 for help and retreated into my home. The two individuals fled to their black SUV and left before police arrived." Ford also left before police arrived.
There were three recorded calls between the mayor and 911 staff: two placed by the mayor to 911 and one by a 911 dispatcher to the mayor.
Those calls have become a matter of controversy. CBC News reported this week that the mayor lost his cool, according to multiple well-placed police sources, including a dispatcher, and hurled abuse at a 911 operator when the dispatcher called back trying to find out where he'd gone.
On Thursday, Ford acknowledged he had used inappropriate language, but denied he had made a derogatory comment.
"When I made the 911 call, I was concerned and upset. I was repeatedly told police were arriving soon. In another call, I expressed frustration with the delay and said that I had to leave to go to city hall. I did use the 'F-word' at some point as I expressed my frustration with the situation," the statement said.
Later, in a scrum with reporters, he apologized again for using the expletive. "But to say I called the dispatcher a bitch — I never said that."
Blair said he made the decision to issue a statement supporting the mayor's version of the telephone conversations because he was "concerned that this may have created confusion with the public about whether to call 911 or not. I cannot allow that to happen. Public safety is too important."
The police chief also said there have been no complaints by any members of the police service over the 911 conversations. However, sources have told CBC News that the head of the police union has met with dispatchers in the police 911 radio room who were upset over the Ford calls.
Only Ford can allow the release of the 911 recordings, and there have been repeated calls for him to do so.