Friday, July 9, 1993

Bruce DeMara

p. A6.

Police board apologizes for handling of inquiries

The Metro police services board has apologized for not publicly disciplining police Chief William McCormack over his role in the Junger/Whitehead scandal. The board, following a two-hour debate, also apologized for its own actions and expressed its "displeasure" at the penalties handed out to six senior officers involved in the affair.

Both cases involve internal affairs proceedings against two officers. In the case of Constable Gordon Junger, the force signed a secret deal purporting to destroy evidence in exchange for his resignation after he was accused of running an escort service and possessing hashish.

In Sergeant Brian Whitehead's case, the force mishandled a former prostitute's complaint that he extorted sex by threatening to arrest her.

Last fall an inquiry headed by lawyer Frank D'Andrea was strongly critical of both the force and the board's role in the two cases.

On June 14, Douglas Drinkwater, head of the Ontario Civillian Commission on Police Services also chastised the board for "counselling" McCormack during a February meeting but not publicly admonishing him.

"The commission has indicated they are unhappy with the discipline we ultimately meted out and unhappy our counselling of the chief was not in public," Eng said.

"I think it's a very refreshing posture for a public body to account for itself. We take responsibility collectively and historically for what this board did or did not do," said board member Laura Rowe. "I think it's essential as a public body, we say the buck stops here," Rowe added.

But Metro Councillor Brian Ashton (Scarborough Bluffs), who also sits on the board, said he had no intention of apologizing for the board actions. "Every time we go through this, it's almost as if we're telling the entire world this is the tip of the iceberg. Things are really horrible underneath," Ashton said.

At one point, Eng also suggested McCormack might want to issue a formal written apology for his role in the affair. But McCormack bristled at the suggestion and said he would have to consult legal counsel. "I resent being tried once over again," McCormack said. He said he has already accepted the board's rebuke "with grace."

"I take exception ... to the continuance of a matter that has been dealt with by you (Eng) and by this board and I take exception to the fact that I am continuing to listen to the same thing... regurgitated continuously," a visible angry McCormack told the board. He also defended the six senior officers who were disciplined, many of whom were subsequently promoted.

"The officers in question that are now being criticized for lack of more punitive effort being taken against them were acting at that time in good faith." "Unfortunately, there were mistakes. That was admitted to at all times.

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Last modified: May 9, 1998

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