THE ONTARIO CIVILIAN COMMISSION ON POLICE SERVICES|
Report on an inquiry into administration of internal investigations by the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force
In the Public InterestThe people of Ontario must have confidence in the integrity of their police. Police officers occupy a position of trust. They have authority and responsibilities beyond those of the private citizen. When an officer is suspected of serious misconduct, particularly if it potentially involves criminal activity, the allegation reflects on the entire force.
Police officers are engaged in a stressful and sometimes dangerous job. They need the cooperation and support of the public to do that job. To maintain public confidence and support, every police force must be vigilant in maintaining the highest standards of professionalism and honour among its officers.
Police officers are only human. As in every other line of work, some of them on occasion will get into trouble. The test of integrity of a police force is not that all its officers are perfect, but that when there are allegations of misconduct, they are dealt with quickly, fairly and openly.
The public must be assured that when wrongdoing by an officer is suspected, the case will be investigated swiftly, and, if there is evidence to lay a charge, prosecuted vigorously. There must be no special treatment because the person under investigation wears a badge. Officers must be assured that they will be dealt with fairly and impartially; the rights of the accused must be protected.
Secrecy is inimical to our justice system. Law enforcement is an important part of that system. It is a matter of public concern how police forces handle criminal and serious disciplinary matters that involve their own members, who are sworn to serve and protect the public.
Those who are responsible for the quality of policing must be accountable to the public. Our whole system is predicated on accountability. The Chief of Police is accountable to the Police Services Board and through the Board to the community.
The Police Services Board is responsible for providing civilian monitoring of the force and setting policies for its operation. Because of this obligation to monitor and because police investigate allegations against their own members, expectations for scrutiny by the Police Services Board, as representatives of the community, are high. It is imperative that Police Services Boards understand their role and are held accountable to the public. Their function is a crucial one; Boards exist to ensure that the policing services provided meet community standards.
In cases where allegations against an officer originate with a member of the public, there is provision in law for civilian scrutiny of investigation of complaints through monitoring by the Police Complaints Commissioner.
The Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services which designated this Inquiry panel under Section 58 of the Police Act is also part of the system of accountability and civilian review. The Inquiry panel was given the mandate to examine the administration of the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force as it relates to internal investigations into allegations of wrongdoing by members of the force. We heard extensive evidence and argument over the course of 18 months, primarily pertaining to two cases -- that of former Constable Gordon Junger and that of Constable (formerly Sergeant) Brian Whitehead.
The Inquiry panel considered whether the management, supervision and enforcement of policies and procedures for handling alleged wrongdoing by officers of the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force were adequate in light of the need for:
Our conclusion is that they clearly were not.
The Inquiry has revealed serious mismanagement on the part of the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force in the handling of alleged misconduct by members of the force.
The Inquiry panel is not in a position to assert that the two cases which were the subject of detailed inquiry are necessarily representative of all internal investigations. But we doubt that the problems associated with those cases are unique.
As noted in the Preface of this report, four other cases which were raised in a submission to the Inquiry were reviewed, but without the benefit of sworn testimony. We considered only information that could be verified by our own investigator and solicitor in connection with these additional cases. These cases could not be thoroughly and authoritatively investigated. However, the information that we received tends to indicate that the treatment of the Junger and Whitehead cases may not be isolated or anomalous.
The evidence put before this Inquiry has revealed that:
The Metropolitan Toronto Police Force has maintained throughout this Inquiry that nothing seriously went wrong -- nothing that a few procedural changes could not fix. The Chief of Police William McCormack told the Inquiry that the force has not been "procedurally perfect," but his officers have acted in good faith. It is significant that, as far as this Inquiry has been informed, not a single member of the force has been reprimanded in connection with these matters.
Internal Affairs, which conducted the investigations into Junger and Whitehead, has gone on record in its final submission (p. 2) as assessing its performance as flawless -- "totally proper, totally correct and totally legal" and in the best interests of the force and the community.
The evidence presented at this Inquiry showed that Internal Affairs investigators were skillful and thorough in gathering evidence in the Junger and Whitehead matters. But the Inquiry panel is in fundamental disagreement with the self-assessment provided by Internal Affairs as to the propriety and correctness of all its actions and its contribution for the force and the public interest.
The role of Internal Affairs is crucial in maintaining public trust in the police. An excerpt from the American Law Enforcement Accreditation Manual states:
The internal affairs function is important for the maintenance of professional conduct in a law enforcement agency. The integrity of the agency depends on the personal integrity and discipline of each employee. To a large degree, the public image of the agency is determined by the quality of the internal affairs function in responding to allegations of misconduct against the agency or its employees.
As civilian representatives of the public interest, our primary aim in presenting this report is to prevent a recurrence of the mismanagement revealed by the evidence given to this Inquiry. In order to do so, it is clearly necessary to identify the errors and omissions which occurred so that recommendations may be made for corrective action to guard against similar failures in the future.
The Inquiry panel realizes that there is likely some expectation that this report will single out individuals for censure or approval. During the course of this Inquiry, a good deal of evidence was led by parties to justify and explain their actions. However, the mandate given to this Inquiry was to inquire into the policies, procedures and practices of the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force. This Inquiry is not concerned with the good character, propriety of conduct or competence of any party with a view to assessing blame or applying sanctions.
If there is to be a calling to account for what occurred, it should be done by those who are directly responsible for policing services in Metropolitan Toronto.
If the Metropolitan Toronto Police Services Board had reacted differently in April, 1990 when circumstances of the resignation of Gordon Junger first came to light in the media, this Inquiry need never have taken place. If the Board had used its own authority to uncover the facts of the Junger case and respond appropriately, the Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services would not have felt obliged to intervene.
If the Chief of Police for Metropolitan Toronto had responded vigorously and openly when he discovered the full details of the Junger resignation agreement, instead of keeping them confidential, the reaction to this whole matter would have been different.
Had the force been less defensive and the Board less complacent at the outset, the public would have been assured that the issues were being addressed. This report would not have been necessary.
It is our hope that the conclusions and recommendations in this report will encourage police force management and Police Services Boards -- not only in Metropolitan Toronto, but across Ontario -- to take a hard look at how they are fulfilling their respective roles and meeting their obligations to the public. For that reason, the Inquiry panel is pleased to have had the opportunity to conduct this Inquiry and to present this report to the Solicitor General of Ontario.
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Created: January 21, 1997|
Last modified: February 12, 1997
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