Saturday, May 18, 1991

Andrew Duffy

138 complaints about police not passed on, inquiry told

The police complaints commission has concerns about the way public complaints against officers have been handled by Metro police's internal affairs unit. The internal affairs unit investigated 138 public complaints against police officers that should have been referred to the commissioner over the past five years, according to a report prepared by retired Supreme Court justice Richard Holland.

"It begs the question why," said Susan Watt, counsel for the commissioner at a provincial inquiry delving into the conduct of Metro's internal affairs unit.

With a staff of 36, the commissioner, Clare Lewis, is responsible for monitoring the police the police investigation of public complaints. All complaints made by members of the public alleging police misconduct are supposed to be referred to his office.

Holland, in his report to the inquiry, said, "A course of conduct had developed whereby referral (to the commissioner) would not take place in some circumstances."

For instance, Holland said, if a complainant asked to remain anonymous, the complaint would not be referred. But in 52 cases, the files failed to disclose a reason for nor informing the commissioner.

Holland's report, which covered the period from December, 1984, to October, 1990, praises the internal affairs unit. "I can say without reservation that, in my opinion, the internal affairs unit . . . should be congratulated on the very thorough investigations that are carried out in connection with alleged wrongdoing by members or employees of the force," Holland writes.

Eddie Greenspan, counsel for the internal affairs unit, has pointed to the report as a glowing exoneration of the unit.

Other lawyers at the inquiry, however, have expressed reservations about Holland's conclusion.

"I think it (the report) shows that the police, by their activities, have been frustrating the operation of the police complaints commissioner," said Peter Rosenthal, who represents former constable Gordon Junger.

Holland's report became the subject of intense legal argument this week at the provincial inquiry which is also looking into the Junger case. Junger, a nine-year police veteran, signed a controversial resignation agreement with the force amid an escort service scandal.

Rosenthal twice asked that Appendix D of Holland's report be released, but the inquiry panel ruled the appendix will remain sealed.

Appendix D gives a detailed look at the 138 public complaints that were handled by Metro's internal affairs unit and not referred to the public complaints commissioner.

In the sections of the report made public, Holland recommends that:

  • Metro police no longer enter into written agreements that use Police Act charges as bargaining chips.
  • A review process be established to ensure public complaints get referred to the public complaints commissioner.

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Created: April 22, 1998
Last modified: April 22, 1998

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