Friday, August 28, 1992

Jane Armstrong and Sandi Farran

p. A6.

Rowlands criticizes findings as unfair

Former police services board chairperson June Rowlands has blasted an inquiry's report on the Gordon Junger affair, saying its criticism is unjustified.

"It's always easy to criticize after the fact," said Rowlands, now mayor of Toronto. It's easy to second guess. But you're faced with the situation it's a different thing. "So I'm disappointed."

Rowlands took strong exception to many of the report's recommendations and in particular, its conclusion that the response of the Metro Toronto Police Services Board was "woefully inadequate."

That's not fair and I totally disagree," she said yesterday in an interview. Rowlands said it wasn't the boards role to get so involved in the day-to-day activities of the police department. The boards main duties are to set policy and to act as an appeals board, she said.

So when the board learned of a secret resignation agreement hatched by police and nine-year police veteran Junger, the board chose to set up a task force into the issues involved.

The provincial inquiry report said the board should have pressed Chief William McCormack for more details on the agreement.

But Rowlands said, "I don't see how anything useful could have occurred from that. There were then two investigations going on. What we wanted to do was come up with policies so that this wouldn't happen again."

Junger signed a resignation deal with police Jan. 19, 1990, amid allegations he was a male prostitute and co-owner of an escort service.

The inquiry report strongly condemned both the police department and the board for their methods of handling the case.

But Rowlands refused to apologize for her actions during the affair. She said the report's conclusion that the board's response was weak was simply wrong.

Rowlands also took strong exception to the report's recommendations that the board in the future take a more active role in police investigations.

"Those suggestions won't work. It depends on one's philosophy of the duty of the board," she said, adding she took the view that the board shouldn't get involved in day-to-day affairs.

She said she does not condone the deal police made with Junger, but stressed that the force doesn't have a satisfactory mechanism to fire a police officer guilty of wrongdoing.

"They said they didn't want to set about pointing fingers, but that's exactly what they do, and they do not come to grips with the general problem of how to get rid of an officer."

Susan Eng, the current chairperson of the police services board, said it is regrettable that the inquiry failed to reach any conclusion or authorize disciplinary actions within its jurisdiction.

Instead, she said, the writers of the report chose to throw its findings back at the board, asking it to respond to the 24 recommendations it released yesterday after reviewing evidence for the past two years.

"I find it very difficult for the board, in so short a period of time, to respond to a document," Eng said in an interview yesterday.

She said the recommendations harshly condemn the behavior of the board and some individuals, yet "the recommendations are silent about what to do about those things."

Eng said many of the recommendations made by the inquiry were presented in the board's own submission to it. In some cases, she said, action has already been taken by the board.

The board will review the other recommendations and findings and determine "the appropriate course of action," at its Sept. 24 meeting. Eng said she hopes the board will be able to report to the civilian commission within six months.

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Created: December 6, 1998
Last modified: December 7, 1998

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