Norm Dorr calls it quits on Hamilton police meetings

He fought for a place to sit. He fought to be a delegation. Now, after coming to every Hamilton police services board meeting since September, Norm Dorr isn’t going to attend them anymore.
Norm Dorr holds up a copy of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms outside a Hamilton Police Services board meeting last month after the board denied his request to speak. Dorr has attended every board meeting since September, inspiring a number of procedural changes. He's going to at least stop for the summer, he says. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

He fought for a place to sit. He fought to be a delegation. He's inspired the board to change how it allows the public to speak.

Now, after coming to every Hamilton police services board meeting since September, Norm Dorr isn’t going to attend them anymore.

Dorr is the father-in-law of Steve Mesic, a Hamilton man who was shot and killed by police last June. Dorr and a large group of Mesic’s family and friends first attended a board meeting on Sept. 13. He faced off against Mayor Bob Bratina and vowed to attend every meeting in the foreseeable future.

He has made presentations on conductive energy weapons, lapel cameras and calls for Chief Glenn De Caire’s resignation. Tuesday’s meeting, when the board denied his request to talk about lapel cameras, will be his last at least for the summer, he said.

“I’ve got too many other things to look after right now and other projects we have to take care of,” he said.

As for whether he’ll be back in the fall, “let’s leave that open,” he said.

Dorr often appeared with his daughter Sharon and her and Mesic’s infant son, as well as a group of supporters, some of whom shouted in anger or frustration during the meetings. He’s still upset, calling Tuesday’s vote to deny his delegation request part of the “censorship and discrimination of the Hamilton police board.”

The inquest into Mesic’s shooting starts June 2, Dorr said. For now, “we’re just going to deal with the inquest.” His family will also put their efforts into Steve's Ride, an annual fundraiser on June 21. 

Dorr’s presence has been a “constant reminder” of Mesic’s death, and that the board is accountable to the public, said Coun. Terry Whitehead of Ward 8.

“That’s why he’s asking about lapel cameras. That’s why it’s important to him.”

The board denied Dorr’s presentation because it wants more information about how lapel cameras are used in other jurisdictions, Whitehead said. It formally asked for a report from De Caire on how the cameras are used in other jurisdictions.

Dorr’s appearance in the crowded boardroom in September partially inspired the board to move its meetings to city hall council chambers, where it could accommodate larger crowds. Bratina, who was then chair of the board, suggested Dorr's group leave after their issue was discussed.

"Then let's get a bigger room," Dorr said. "How's that?"

His March presentation also prompted the board to revamp its policy for approving delegations. They used to be approved by the board chair. Now they’re approved in open session by the entire board.


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