April 22-28, 1993

Enzo Di Matteo

Civilian body's Junger review set to let chief off the hook

McCormack unlikely to face discipline hearing for his role

The Junger affair continues to haunt the Metro police chief William McCormack. His conduct is now being reviewed by the Ontario civilian commission on police services (OCCPS), which oversees policing in the province.

But it looks like as if the police chief has little to fear from the body, which produced the exhaustive two-and-half-year Junger inquiry report -- including a scathing indictment of the force's handling of internal discipline.

Though the decision won't be formally made until next month at the earliest, preliminary indications are that McCormack will not face a disciplinary hearing for his role in the force's secret deal with former police constable Gordon Junger. (Junger was allowed to resign from the force with references after it was discovered he was running an escort service and was charged with possessing hashish).

The chief will also not have to face a disciplinary hearing into the force's handling of a case involving sergeant Brian Whitehead -- an officer who was demoted in rank to first class constable but who never faced a criminal court on sexual assault and extortion charges.

Though the Metro Coalition for Police Reform and the Law Union of Ontario, among others, have filed a complaint calling for such a hearing, a source close to the commission's discussions, which began in a private meeting Monday (April 19), says the response will focus on policy issues.

"The concern is to solve the problem, to see this doesn't happen again. There's much more concern about that than imposing any kind of penalty on people for something that happened yesterday," the source says.

Meanwhile, all three members of the commission who made up the inquiry panel -- Frank D'Andrea, Jean Margery Beauprie, and Julio Roberto Menezes -- are no longer serving on the commission. A spokesperson from the solicitor general's office says their terms expired.

At least one former member of the inquiry has privately expressed concerns that the commissioners' terms were not extended to allow them to participate in the current debate.

"It's not in the best of interests of the province," says the former member. "Those of us who took part in the process and authored the report now have very little influence over its implementation. There are totally new members who know nothing about it except what they read in the newspapers. There are nuances that maybe they don't catch."

Of the four new commission members, only Jamaican Canadian Association president Karl Fuller is from the Toronto area.

"Punishment is not the intent," says Fuller of the commission's current discussions, "but the commission does have concerns about how you set in place procedures that would raise consciousness around issues of propriety. At the same time, you can't conclude that the commission's response has been thoroughly met (by Metro police services board). I can't go any further than that."

Commission chair Douglas Drinkwalter told reporters part way through Monday's meeting of the commission that he had nothing to say "until we make our response in writing." to the Metro police services board.

Wrong message

But he told NOW in an interview last week, "My initial reaction is that they have taken very substantial steps which out to solve the problem, to see it doesn't happen again." Those steps include structural changes aimed at a closer monitoring by the board of the force's disciplines system.

"The (police services) board's response constitutes a rethinking of the whole problem," says Drinkwalter.

Drinkwalter acknowledges that not disciplining the chief may send out the wrong message to police that, "If you screw up, we'll forget about it."

But he maintains, "The question of disciplining the chief is for Metro police services board chair Susan Eng to answer to" -- even though the Ontario commission has the authority to discipline both the chief and the Metro board. In fact, the Junger report as much as warned the board that that's what the Ontario police commission would do if the board's response was found to be inadequate.

Although the board placed stricter guidelines on reporting discipline cases to the civilian body on a quarterly basis, its only disciplinary response toward the chief was a closed meeting in late February, termed a "counseling" by the board.

Closed door

A source at the closed-door meeting says the chief refused to accept a reprimand.

Frank D'Andrea, the lawyer and former commission member who chaired the inquiry, believes the counseling amounts to an inadequate response to the spirit of the inquiry's recommendations.

"I don't know to this day what it is (about the chief's actions) that concerned the board and what it is that they counseled him about," says D'Andrea. "One of the things that got them in the glue in the first place was the whole secrecy surrounding the disciplinary process.

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Created: January 17, 1997
Last modified: February 8, 1997

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