Friday, August 28, 1992
An indictment of Metro policeThe way in which a police force handles misconduct in the ranks illustrates its respect for the law.
If special treatment is bestowed because of the badge, public confidence is lost.
The people of Metro Toronto should therefore be concerned about yesterday's indirect rebuke of senior police officers, Chief William McCormack and the Metro Police Services Board by a provincial inquiry.
In a blistering report by the Ontario Commission on Police Services, Chair D'Andrea expresses doubt about the accountability of Metro police, after reviewing two police misconduct cases.
In the first one, the force struck a secret deal with Gordon Junger, a constable suspected of running an escort service, in which it offered to destroy evidence, grant immunity, and issue a letter of good standing.
The second case revolved around the force's handling of an ex-prostitute's complaint that a Metro officer had extorted sex by threatening her with arrest.
After looking into both cases, D'Andrea concludes the entire internal discipline process -- management, supervision, and enforcement of policies and procedures -- is "clearly" inadequate.
The system not only lacked accountability, it failed to deliver "vigilance in the maintenance of high standards of professionalism and integrity, fairness in the exercise of authority, and openness to public scrutiny."
So who must take responsibility for this mess? For starters, D'Andrea is highly critical of the internal affairs unit itself.
Former police services board head June Rowlands -- now mayor -- is on the hook too. Once she learned of the Junger deal in the press, she should have insisted on seeing it, and telling Junger's lawyer it was unacceptable.
But McCormack must take ultimate responsibility as head of the force. After all, he directs the internal affairs unit and is responsible for day to day operations.
Yet, as D'Andrea observes, the force insisted that nothing much went seriously wrong, and McCormack took the position that while the force had not been "procedurely perfect," his officers had acted in good faith.
For his part, McCormack failed to keep himself informed of details in the Junger agreement before his signature was attached to it.
Once he became aware of it, says D'Andrea, "he should have repudiated it and taken it to the police services board. Keeping it confidential, especially from his own board, was an inappropriate action."
McCormack must also take all responsibility for the internal affairs unit's contention that the agreement negotiated with Junger's lawyer was merely a "con" because the force had no intention of honoring it.
As chief, he must live with D'Andrea's conclusion that no matter how one looks at the agreement, "the actions of the force demonstrated a tremendous lack of integrity. those in charge of the Metropolitan force do not seem to realize the seriousness of this matter."
That sorry state of affairs prompts D'Andrea to ask: "If a police force would act dishonorable to get rid of one of its officers, can the public count on it to act honorably in cases involving civilians?"
It's now up to McCormack to show he has learned a lesson. If he can't, the job should go to someone else.
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Created: December 12, 1998|
Last modified: December 12, 1998
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