Friday, September 11, 1998

Jack Lakey

p. B1.

Sgro, police union conflict heats up

The conflict between the Toronto police union and police services board member Judy Sgro is heating up.

The board met behind closed doors with the union yesterday to discuss "ongoing crime problems... and law and order," according to union leader Craig Bromell.

But The Star has learned that the focus of the private, 90-minute meeting was public comments made by Sgro about a fatal police chase and an aggressive union ad campaign to target politicians who criticize police.

After everyone at the meeting was sworn not to discuss it publicly, sources say the police union tore into Sgro for her comments, and for statements she made in a "tearyeyed" story in The Star on Monday.

Sworn to secrecy

Sources say she was vilified by police union officials for telling The Star she is an ardent police supporter, and for talking about a first cousin who was shot to death while working as an Ontario Provincial Police officer.

The union continued to demand that Sgro resign from the police board, and said it would not back down from its call for the Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services to investigate and remove her from the board.

After the meeting, sources say Bromell and police board chair Norm Gardner went to Mayor Mel Lastman's office to discuss the Sgro situation. Lastman was unavailable for comment last night.

One source said the union "really put the boots to her" in the meeting, adding that she was misled by the confidentiality agreement.

Police board rep vilified, sources say

Sgro refused to discuss the meeting, saying she had been sworn to secrecy before she knew she would be the main topic. "All I can say is that it was a very frank discussion," she said.

When asked by reporters if problems with Sgro were raised, Bromell claimed "it wasn't brought up. Nothing has changed here. Actually, it was a productive meeting, We got into, you know, fighting crime, I guess."

Gardner said the meeting was held to "continue with the liaison that we already initiated with the members of the police association. . . and discuss things that the association would like to bring to our attention and their feelings on various matters."

Asked by The Star if Sgro's comments were discussed , he replied: "Actually, not to any great degree. It was touched on in a small degree, but not to any great degree."

Sgro first got into hot water with the union for comments she made about a police chase that ended in the death of Clyde Barnaby, 73, who was struck and killed May 11 by a stolen van while riding a bicycle on Oak Park Ave.

Lives in jeopardy

"I think they (police and their supporters) forget there are lives around them that are being put in jeopardy," she said. "I understand if you have a murder or kidnap suspect in a car, but . . . they are basically chasing stolen vehicles." "No vehicle is worth this kind of money. That's why we have insurance."

After the police union revealed its ad campaign against politicians who criticize the force, Sgro said it reminded her of "something you'd see in Louisiana, where you daren't ask the police anything or you'll be found dead in the back of a car a week later."

Toronto Police clippings... [Fiona Stewart]

Created: February 15, 1999
Last modified: February 15, 1999

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