Monday, June 28, 1999

Cal Millar

p. A4.

Police chiefs blast the SIU

Fantino vows to fight for watchdog review

THUNDER BAY — York Region police Chief Julian Fantino fired another verbal salvo at the SIU yesterday, and received a pledge from Ontario's new solicitor-general to listen to his concerns.

"We have nothing but discomfort, aggravation and a whole lot of very, very traumatic, very unnecessary, very preventable feelings within the police community," said Fantino at the 48th annual Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police conference.

"Everyone is unhappy." Fantino, who is president of the chief's association, said the concerns about the way the provincial special investigations unit is operating has been the most significant, ongoing and recurring problem facing the law enforcement community.

"It isn't fixed and it needs to be fixed," he told reporters.

"Certainly we always have to look at how we can improve systems," said Solicitor-General David Tsubouchi, who added that he hadn't received any complaints about the SIU in his two weeks in office.

Tsubouchi said he plans to meet with police chiefs to hear their concerns about the unit, which independently reviews incidents of death or serious injury in which police are involved.

Fantino said earlier yesterday that legislation governing the workings of the SIU is flawed and must be fixed.

"We are entitled to have some notion of fairness and equity as with every other citizen of this country," said Fantino.

"Police officers are entitled to at least the treatment that criminals are afforded."

In April, the SIU charged York Region Constable Randy Martin with second-degree murder and his partner, Constable Michael Hoskins, with assault with a weapon and careless use of a firearm after an attempted arrest led to the shooting death of a father and the wounding of his son.

It was the first time the unit charged an officer with murder in its nine-year history.

Thunder Bay police Chief Leo Toneguzzi backed Fantino's call for a review of the SIU's powers. "I dealt with them only once as a chief and I can say it's probably the most degrading experience I've ever had," Toneguzzi said.

A Thunder Bay police officer, Constable Shane Baker, was charged by the unit in May with dangerous driving causing death and dangerous driving causing bodily harm after a police chase.

Fantino said it's the intent of association members to bring their concerns to the government. "We want to ensure our issues are brought forward to the place where they have the authority and mandate to effect change," he said.

Meanwhile, Tsubouchi said in a speech that Queen's Park will put pressure on the federal government for tougher laws dealing with young offenders.

When questioned by reporters after his speech, Tsubouchi said there's really no accountability involved with young offenders who are committing adult crimes.

"I think clearly there has to be accountability there," he said, adding. "This is an area where we can co-operate quite well."

Tsubouchi said he will broach the subject of tougher juvenile laws at the upcoming provincial ministers conference.

He said he would also follow up his concern about early parole being given on a quota basis by the federal government.

"Clearly we're more concerned about the victims… and making sure they are protected," he said.

Toronto Police clippings… [Fiona Stewart]

Created: October 9, 2000
Last modified: October 9, 2000
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