An Anarchic Weekend
It wasn’t long before TAPPS and its network were tested.
On the Thursday before the big G20 weekend, a crazy convergence of events tested the capabilities of the public-private partnerships forged to protect the city of Toronto. The day began with a suspicious package incident during the morning rush hour at a subway station adjacent to the Ontario Ministry of Finance. Things got worse when a 5.0 magnitude earthquake struck the region, and a group of approximately 1,000 demonstrators converged on the Ministry’s Queen’s Park location during the afternoon, stress testing its security plans. The three incidents were concurrently managed by a unified police/security protective program utilizing TAPPS. Timely communication about the earthquake from the Ontario Provincial Police helped the Ministry’s security service and emergency management team avoid an unnecessary evacuation of its facility and devote its resources to the public order threat presented by protesters, while police managed building lockdowns in the demonstration’s vicinity.
Then by midday Saturday, groups of Black Bloc anarchists separated themselves from the larger peaceful protests surrounding the G20 security cordon and began breaking storefront windows and torching police cars across the financial and shopping districts.
Operating as an element of the G8/G20 Integrated Security Unit—a joint service of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Toronto Police Service, Canadian Forces, Peel Police Service, and other law enforcement partners—TAPPS analysts distributed vital information and coordinated knowledge transfer to TAPPS members. Near real-time information was relayed about protest movements on a turn-by-turn basis through the city streets.
“For the first time, to my knowledge, a civilian organization operated within the Toronto Police Major Incident Command sending information and intelligence to private security members as it was also being disseminated to police,” says TAPPS Founder and Chairman Nick Migliore.
Other security professionals note TAPPS members' contribution to the secure portal, which was accessed 6,500 times over the weekend. “The ‘eyes and ears’ of the membership played a crucial role in ensuring that properties directly in the protest zone were aware of the groups’ movements,“ says TAPPS member Leo Manos, a special projects manager for The Reilly Group of Companies. “Regular communications from TAPPS assisted us in deploying security personnel in critical areas before, during, and after the summit.”
The hard work in advance of the summits—including regular meetings, planning sessions, training and exercises, technology development, as well as the close coordination and enhanced communication that TAPPS assisted with—helped forge strong and effective protective programs during the challenging and sometimes difficult days of the summits. Migliore says that without TAPPS, message alerts, and the common radio frequency, business owners and properties would have been caught off-guard by the anarchists. Instead, advanced warning allowed business and property owners to lock down their facilities as well as the underground PATH system. No anarchist breached a building or the PATH. If they had, the damage could have been catastrophic. Rough estimates place the potential damage costs in the millions of dollars.
“The plans were well executed, damage was predictable, and information-sharing made it all possible,” says Oksana Farber, chairman of the ASIS International’s Law Enforcement Liaison Council.
After the summit, the perimeter fences came down around the heart of Toronto, signaling a return to normalcy. There was some property damage, mass protests, and some criticism about the mass arrests, but overall, police and private security did their job: the safety and security of the leaders of the 20 most powerful states were assured.
Security and police professionals now hope to build on the lessons learned and realize an even greater collaboration between police and security in the future. “It is my hope that some security consultants will have the opportunity to be part of the after-the-fact debrief,” Alan Bell, a security consultant and media analyst for Globe Risk International, says. “I believe that important lessons have possibly gone unrecognized.”
The wisdom of learning from the past is in large part how TAPPS originally came into being. By adhering to the culture of public-private initiatives, security and police have successfully met their objectives together and plan on perfecting their partnership into the future.
David Neely, CPP, is a manager at Security Services & Emergency Management at the Ontario Ministry of Finance. He is a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police and serves on the ASIS International Law Enforcement Liaison Committee.