POLITICS

Police chief's view of Mayor Ford's 911 calls after comic incident 'accurate'

01/20/2012 03:43 EST | Updated 03/21/2012 05:12 EDT
TORONTO - Police Chief Bill Blair has won backing for his view of 911 calls made by Mayor Rob Ford after he was confronted by a TV comedian.

On Friday, Blair released a letter from provincial police commissioner Chris Lewis, who reviewed the calls Ford made last fall.

"I have reviewed the three Toronto Police Service recordings you provided," Lewis said in his letter to Blair.

"I can confirm that the statement you made in a public release on Oct. 28, 2011, is an accurate interpretation of the content of the tapes."

Lewis's review, at Blair's request, follows complaints to the CBC about its report of Ford's calls in which the broadcaster said he used profanities and harangued the dispatcher.

In its report, CBC cited multiple anonymous sources as claiming Ford said, "Don't you (expletive) know? I'm Rob (expletive) Ford, the mayor of this city!"

Ford later acknowledged using the "F-word" but denied using any insulting names against 911 dispatchers or describing himself as CBC said he did.

In response to the report, Blair said he listened to the tapes, and sided with the mayor, saying Ford had not described himself "as the original account claimed."

He also accused the CBC of "misrepresenting" the calls.

In response to complaints about the reports, CBC Ombudsman Kirk Lapointe said earlier this month he could not accept Blair's statement that in the absence of hearing the 911 tapes, which have not been released.

"The chief was not a disinterested party," Lapointe wrote, noting the police service's budget is set through negotiations headed by the mayor.

A police spokesman called Lapointe's assertion that Blair's account was not reliable "offensive."

The incident, which garnered national attention and made Ford the butt of social-media derision, began the morning of Oct. 24 when comedian Mary Walsh, of CBC's "This Hour Has 22 Minutes," surprised him in the driveway of his west-end home.

Ford said he called 911 out of concern for his safety and that of his family.

He did apologize for "inappropriately" expressing his frustration with the delay in police response to the call.

Ford, who has refused permission to allow the tapes to be released, recently refused to discuss the matter any further.