December 30, 2013 7:58 pm
Updated: December 31, 2013 5:37 pm

Bill Blair denies targeting Rob Ford in police investigation


Watch the video above: Mark Carcasole sits down for a one-on-one interview with Police Chief Bill Blair looking at the year in review.

TORONTO – Chief Bill Blair wouldn’t say definitively during a one-on-one interview with Global News Monday whether Mayor Rob Ford is still under investigation

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“There are always criminal investigations taking place and I know some matters that my investigators are continuing to pursue, but again that’s not targeting on any individual, but it’s targeting on the evidence,” he said.

Police opened an investigation into the mayor in May after reports on Gawker and in The Toronto Star suggested a video existed showing the mayor smoking what might be crack cocaine.

The mayor denied the existence of the video and frequently refused to answer questions about the allegations, saying instead “I cannot comment on a video that I have never seen or does not exist.

On Oct. 31, Blair revealed the video had been seized during June’s Project Traveller raids. He wouldn’t provide details on what happens in the video but instead suggested it was “consistent” with what had previously been reported.

“As a citizen of Toronto I’m disappointed,” Blair said at the time. “It’s an issue of significant public concern.”

Since then, the mayor and his brother have tried to take Blair to task suggesting there was a multi-faceted conspiracy against the mayor involving the police, media and the Ontario justice system.

When asked Monday if he was out to get the mayor, the police chief quickly responded, “no.”

In depth: Mayor Rob Ford

In November, hundreds of pages released by Justice Ian Nordheimer provided a behind-the-scenes look at the police investigation of the mayor.  The documents detailed the mayor allegedly receiving manila envelopes, allegedly drinking and driving and hanging out at a known crack house.

None of the statements in the documents have been proven in court.

Many have criticized Toronto’s police service for not stopping, searching or arresting the mayor during these allegedly suspicious events. Blair suggested Monday that investigators didn’t want to jeopardize a more serious investigation – Project Traveller – by taking any chances.

“There may be some other peripheral criminal activity on a lower level that you know we don’t ignore, but at the same time we are not going to put in jeopardy the larger investigation and the larger purpose,” he said.  “So when the larger purpose is achieved, we then make sure we tie up the loose ends.”

Forty-three people were arrested and $3 million in narcotics, $572,000 in cash and 40 firearms were seized during the June raids that focused on dismantling the “Dixon Goonies” or “Dixon Bloods” street gang.

Sammy Yatim

During the half-hour interview with Global News, Blair also spoke about the death of Sammy Yatim – an 18-year-old who was shot at nine times while alone on a TTC streetcar.

Several cellphone videos, which captured the shooting, were uploaded to YouTube in the hours following the incident.

“Video is not a problem, video is just a reality. It gives you the best evidence of what transpired,” Blair said. “But certainly I think it was a very vivid image for all the people of the city and it was for us as well.”

After the shooting, Blair enlisted retired Supreme Court of Canada Justice Frank Iacobucci to lead a review of the police service’s use-of-force policies.

“I want the public’s confidence in the outcome of that inquiry,” Blair said. “20,000 times a year we resolve those [mental health/disturbance calls] safely but when it results in injury or death, it’s quite understandable that the public would be concerned and we share that concern. And so we want to do everything possible to make sure we can resolve that as safely as we can.”

Blair also called for  increasing resources for people suffering from mental illness.

“There’s also a need for us as a society to look at how we support people who are suffering mental illness or who are in an emotional crisis before it gets to a crisis point before first responders have to go and deal with a very dangerous and sometimes deadly situation,” he said. “We’ve got to do more to those people living in our communities and they deserve our support.”

– With files from Mark Carcasole 

© 2013 Shaw Media

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