Wednesday, December 9, 1998


p. A26.


Gardner's omission

It has been revealed that Norm Gardner, chair of the Toronto Police Services Board, was caught up in the investigation into the force's troubled gun unit.

The investigation -- which involved two U.S. law enforcement agencies as well as detective from the Toronto police force -- cleared Gardner of any wrongdoing.

The story would end there except for one troubling aspect; the other members of the police board never knew Gardner was being investigated.

Despite being questioned by internal affairs detectives about his dealings with the gun unit, Gardner remained involved in board decisions concerning the unit and the discipline on Deputy Chief Steve Reesor who sold a personal weapon through the unit.

Gardner insists he acted properly -- he says he didn't know he was being investigated -- and dismisses any criticism of his actions as "media hype."

Maybe in his mind. But given his position as board chair and the fact that wrongdoing at the troubled gun unit had developed into a serious scandal, Gardner should have shown better judgement.

He says he told the seven-member board that he had been interviewed. But clearly he did so in such a casual fashion that none of them noticed.

On such a sensitive issue, the onus was on Gardner to err on the side of caution. He should have informed the board clearly that he had been questioned, then removed himself from any of the board's discussions about the gun unit.

That would have prevented any perception of a conflict of interest. Indeed, common sense should have dictated such a disclosure.

The police board meets next Tuesday. At that time, it should put in place a policy to ensure disclosure by board members. The Star believes a member who has been questioned by detectives probing a criminal matter has a duty to report it to the board.

We also think the force itself has a responsibility to tell the board when a member is being probed.

Such measures will ensure board members aren't left in the dark in future investigations.

Toronto Police clippings... [Fiona Stewart]

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

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