Saturday, Aug. 29, 1992

Rosie DiManno

p. A4.

The chief still doesn't get it

"Those in charge of the Metropolitan Toronto force do not seem to realize the seriousness of this matter." They still don't. After all the penetrating questions and all the gruding answers, after the investigation and the inquiry, after the drawing in of breath and the letting out of breath, they still do not appreciate the ugliness of what was allowed to happen -- in the name of expediency.

Those words, quoted above, are taken from the official report -- the hard copy, folks -- of an often shocking and always riveting provincial inquiry into the administration of internal affairs investigations by the Metropolitian Toronto Police Force.

It will be known colloquially and for always, as the Junger Affair. Of how a cop-cum-hooker was permitted to resign from the police force, thanks to a sweetheart deal that circumvented the routine disciplinary process -- a process that was deemed to be too public, too messy and not at all reliable, in the final analysis, when it comes to getting rid of One Bad Cop.

At least, that was the judgement of the internal affairs investigators who put the sting on former police constable Gordon Junger. And it was a decision that was not disputed by police Chief William McCormack nor questioned by then police services board chairperson June Rowlands.

Yesterday morning, during a news conference that he had called, McCormack had the opportunity to at least show that this one thing -- this inability to grasp the import of what has transpired -- was not true. He could have proved, if nothing else, that he is not obtuse, that he was not blinded by the veil of deceit, that he did not countenance short-cuts to justice.

He is the chief of police, for heaven's sake, and that is close to God in this city.

But McCormack -- who has always been highly regarded as a decent man, even by the most vocal critics -- took refuge behind semantics and hyperbole and contorted logic. He said this thing and he said that thing but mostly he said nothing: nothing that truly explained or sincerly atoned for the astonishing lapse of morality demonstrated by his own internal affairs inquisitors.

That, ultimately, is what this has been about -- morality. And not Junger's lack of it, as a cop who tried to turn at least one trick on the side, and who was facing investigation for a variety of discipline offences related to prostitution. One despicable cop does not indict a police force of more than 5,000 officers. No sane person could ever suggest such a thing.

But when deceit and dissembling take on officical proportions, when high ranking officers shake hands with the devil to avoid public disclosure, when such shameful activities are approved if not entirely sanctioned by the chief's office - then you have rot and bile and moral pestilence. No one who knew and tolerated this is clean.

McCormack took full responsibility for the Junger fiasco, of course. This is how it is done. What may have been a crucible for the police department can now be recast as McCormack versus Junger, the honorable chief versus the dishonorable con. One must wait and see whether McCormack's shoulders are broad enough and his character deep enough to withstand this sordid episode.

But yesterday, watching the chief stand at the podium, listening to his feeble rationalisation was painful and embarassing and unspeakably sad. There are only two explanations for this performance: Either McCormack still doesn't get it, or he gets it but will not admit it.

"I believe that the agreement itself was wrong," he said. "I believe that we should not have entered into the agreement."

But also: "On this particular matter, each and every one of the officers, including myself, involved in this whole matter are aware that procedurally, certainly, there was some doubt as to how the matter should have gone. It goes to intent... I dare say, if you look at it from that point of view, everybody did what they did in good faith."

And again: "I agree that the agreement itself was reprehensible or whatever word you wish to use and I've always said that. But I also say that it was done in good faith according to (the procedures of) the day. Okay?"

No, chief, not okay. This was not just a procedural misdeed. This was staggering moral malfeasance.

A good cop would know that. A better cop would admit it.

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Created: March 24, 1998
Last modified: March 24, 1998

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