Tuesday, July 20, 1999

John Duncanson

p. B1.

Union slams police board

Fighting hinders watchdog role, Bromell says

The Toronto police services board must end its destructive infighting and get back to the job of watching over the police chief and senior commanders, the police union says.

Craig Bromell, president of the 7,000-member Toronto Police Association, told a news conference yesterday the police board must share part of the blame for the fact that his members say their confidence in the management of the force has been eroded, especially with respect to discipline issues.

"They need to get along and get rid of the politics. Is that possible? I don't know," Bromell said.

Bromell called the news conference to outline the union's views on a scathing police watchdog report released last week, which found the internal police discipline system was unfair to officers and the public.

He said the 60-page report from the Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services vindicated the union for launching a formal complaint last April against police brass.

"After a lengthy and detailed investigation… (the commission) has announced that our concerns were legitimate and the system, about which we complained, does not work, creates confusion and unfairness and must be fixed," Bromell said.

In the 14-months since the union filed its complaints there has been progress in many areas of concern and Bromell said he is willing to wait until the end of the year to see if the police brass make good on their pledge to implement the 13 recommendations in the report.

That year-end deadline is the same one the commission has set for the police brass to report back on what is being done to fix the force's discipline system.

Union leader slams 'politics' on board

Officers' confidence in management is eroded: Bromell

One of the key recommendations is that police services board members receive more training so they can better carry out their civilian oversight role.

Bromell said there has been so much infighting at the board that members have lost sight of their role as civilian bosses, which is to ensure the chief and his commanders are doing their job.

He said he doesn't blame chair Norm Gardner for the problems of the past two years. He said the fault lies with other board members who haven't given Gardner, a city councillor, a chance to get things done.

Bromell said the board needs a full-time chair, and possible two to three full-time commissioners.

Gardner is juggling two demanding jobs and is relying on part-time board members to back him up, Bromell said.

He said the union has already entered into talks with management and is confident they can come to some agreement on how internal discipline should be meted out.

"The disciplinary process that emerges will be openly fairer and more efficient. Accountability will increase. Justice will be done and seen to be done," Bromell said.

Last week, Chief David Boothby called the commission report "helpful and balanced" and promised he would be looking for ways to implement its recommendations in the coming months.

While the union has been claiming victory in its fight over how the brass punishes rank-and-file members, Boothby said the commission found the union's claim of a double standard of discipline within the force could not be proven.

The commission however, was critical over how the senior command handled the force's troubled firearms registration unit.

Part of the reason for the police union launching its complaint was the gun unit scandal, which resulted in five civilians being charged criminally in what internal affairs alleged was a guns-for-profit scheme.

The police union was angry that Deputy Chief Steve Reesor was simply counselled by Boothby for selling his own personal gun with the help of the former firearms boss Paul Mullin.

While the commission said it couldn't prove there was a double standard for discipline, the union maintains the firing of two civilian members of the gun unit for minor errors in judgement and the light discipline handed Reesor should be proof enough.

Bromell said that although they expected the commission would find their grievances to be legitimate, they were surprised the report contained so many recommendations concerning the police board.

Toronto Police clippings… [Fiona Stewart]

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