Hamilton City Council needs to hire an outside lawyer to investigate allegations against City of Hamilton bylaw officials which were tweeted over the weekend.
It is alleged bylaw officers “stormed” into a small restaurant business during routine COVID compliance inspections and were “aggressively asking for the owner.”
Sabreina Dahab’s Twitter thread detailing the allegations has been read by thousands, and a video clip of the interaction viewed over 25,000 times thus far.
The video clip shows Hamilton Police responding to an assist request by Hamilton bylaw. The police officers are standing on the sidewalk and do not engage in any interactions. A Hamilton bylaw officer states they requested police due to ‘hostility’ – the hostility is not detailed.
In the Twitter thread, Dahab states the family business is a “small, Black immigrant family owned business,” and they believe themselves to be in full compliance with COVID regulations.
They were issued two COVID violation tickets of $880 each, Dahab tweeted.
Dahab names one of the bylaw officers and tweeted “It was the same four by-law officers who violently dismantled freedom camp and who dump peoples belongings over the last year. ”
The incident requires review by a neutral independent party.
If bylaw officials investigate themselves, there will be skepticism.
The Hamilton Police Service does not enjoy the needed public confidence following their mishandling of the violence at the Hamilton Pride Festival in 2019. HPS’s internal investigation cleared themselves of fault, while an independent investigation by lawyer Scott Bergman revealed gross incompetence by Hamilton Police command.
HPS is trying to regain public trust, especially among traditionally marginalized communities.
Beyond the public trust issue, Hamilton Police work closely with City of Hamilton bylaw officers.
Any implication that race may have been a factor in the response must be fully addressed.
This is why an independent review is needed.
The Office of Hamilton City Manager Janette Smith issued a tweet in response to the complaints asking Dahab to fill out the City’s online bylaw complaint form. The form does not have a professional standards complaint option, and submissions to the form are shared with bylaw officers.