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Expensive Funeral For Fallen Toronto K9 Sparks Outrage From Social Advocacy Activists

Toronto Police honored Bingo, a fallen police dog, with a lengthy motorcade and End of Watch procession—but some social advocates are crying foul.

Sergeant Brandon Smith and Bingo; Twitter screenshot of Bingo's funeral procession
Toronto Police Service; @carlCityNews/Twitter

A solemn motorcade procession of Toronto Police Service (TPS) vehicles wound its way through downtown Toronto on July 27, paying tribute to a fallen service dog, K9 Bingo, who tragically lost his life while on duty.

The emotional event, intended to honor the dedicated service of the police canine, drew sharp criticism from social justice advocates who questioned the cost shouldered by taxpayers as Canada contends with a cost-of-living crisis among other societal issues.

The procession followed the tragic incident in which K9 Bingo and his handler, Sgt. Brandon Smith, were engaged in a search for an armed suspect on the evening of July 25 near Kipling Avenue and Dixon Road in Toronto.

Sadly, K9 Bingo was shot and killed during an encounter between officers and the suspect. The suspect was subsequently shot by the police, taken into custody, and transported to a hospital for medical attention.

The motorcade and funeral procession for Bingo was characterized by a solemn line of Toronto Police Service vehicles and saluting police officers.

You can see footage of the procession below.

But the procession quickly sparked criticism regarding the ceremony's apparent scale and expenditure from advocacy groups, particularly the On Canada Project.

The social justice organization questioned the allocation of taxpayer funds for the elaborate event, asserting the Toronto Police Service should prioritize addressing systemic issues within the community, particularly those affecting marginalized and vulnerable groups.

It questioned why TPS "would spend taxpayer dollars to make a huge song and dance around honouring a dog while that same institution routinely FAILS to honour the human rights of Black, Indigenous, low-income folks and other people from marginalized communities."

You can see the organization's post below.

Many have also criticized the elaborate event and joined the organization in condemning its cost to taxpayers.

The controversy surrounding the event has sparked a larger conversation about the role of law enforcement in addressing social issues, the allocation of public resources, and the priorities of institutions within the community.

A press release issued by TPS informed the public about the force's intention to conduct a procession in honor of their fallen service member.

Toronto Police Chief Myron Demkiw lamented the death of the service dog, underlining the indispensable role that K9 units fulfill within the police force, saying they "provide an additional resource to our members to help keep communities safe, whether it is tracking a suspect, apprehending violent suspects, or tracking and locating evidence, some of which is incredibly dangerous."