Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Hold Your Fire Is Finally on CBC-TV's Firsthand

It's a coincidence, of course, but CBC-TV's new and compelling documentary on alcoholism Thursday night at 8 gets  followed by an equally compelling new documentary on Toronto police procedures titled Hold Your Fire (at 9 p.m.)
Because both hours are from Bountiful Films.
In the case of Hold Your Fire the wait has been well worth it.
Hold Your Fire was originally scheduled for October 22 at 9 p.m. on CBC-TV's Firsthand.
The stark and uncompromising look at the police shooting of Sammy Yatim is must-see TV.
But the trial of a Toronto police office was still ongoing in October and ever cautious CBC chose to pull it.
I'm assured that with the jury now sequestered the air date Thursday at 9 p.m. is firm and won't be changed again.
I can understand and I applaud CBC's caution.
Because Hold Your Fire deals with the larger issue of whether or not urban Canadian police forces are trained and equipped to handle the large number of mentally ill people wandering urban mean streets these days.
One thing is certain: social services are currently in turmoil.
There have even been reports in recent days Toronto city council wants to slightly reduce the actual number of police officers.
I know when I was burgled several years ago by a mentally ill street person the cop in charge (a veteran female) said she wasn't able to quickly respond to all the night time calls for help because of underfunding.
One veteran cop I know familiar with the Yatim case that all current procedures were met --it obviously was not sufficient in this case. The actual footage is very frightening.
Other cases involve talented Vancouver animator Paul Boyd as conjured up by distraught father David  Extremely gifted Paul gradually drifted in and out of reality and we see the way police coped was totally wrong.And we have video of Michael MacIsaac of Ajax and how the police seemed determined to gun him down.
Slinger has a wide ranging report about how other police forces from Rialto, California to Leicester, England, are trying to find a safer way for both sides and she has examples of how that is working.
What this entails is a restructuring of police training which is time consuming and expensive given the strains on the current police budget.
And there's the example of one 911 responder who deals only with mental cases as she tries to talk down a disturbed person and avert a shooting incident by either side.
Slinger's first class documentary should really be repeated after the current jury decision because past recommendations about better police training have systematically been ignored.

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