Wednesday July 8, 1998
Council considers review of policeJane Doe verdict prompts focus on women, violence
The Toronto police force is facing possible scrutiny by the city auditor over how it has been responding to issues surrounding violence against women.
City councillors are expected to vote today on a city audit committee recommendation that an extensive examination of the force's record on sexual assault investigations and domestic abuse be carried out.
If approved, the city auditor would begin to look into what the force has done with various task force reports, inquest jury recommendations and police board requests that all dealt with improving the force's response to incidents of violence against women.
Lingering questionsthe audit would likely take between three and four month. Police Chief David Boothby said yesterday he would "welcome" such an audit if council wants it done.
Councillor Olivia Chow said it would be done by current city audit staff at little or no extra cost, adding: "It will be really helpful to finally get a report on this issue."
It was Chow (Downtown) and Councillor Gloria Lindsay-Luby (Kingsway-Humber) who convinced the audit committee yesterday that an accounting of police policy and practices concerning domestic violence and sexual assaults would be a worthwhile exercise.
Chow said audits like the one she is proposing aren't new for the police force, and would go a long way to answer lingering questions about whether the police are doing enough alleviate women's concerns.
"We need to assure women that it's being treated as a top priority," said Chow, adding she believes the audit will be approved by council.
Councillor Doug Holyday (Markland-Centennial) said later that the committee acted in haste, without hearing what police had to say. "At the very least the police should have been given an opportunity to answer the accusation before we went further with the request."
The audit request comes on the heels of a damning civilian judgement released last week against the Toronto force in the case of Jane Doe, who 12 years ago was a victim of a serial rapist.
"Utterly negligent"In her ruling Madam Justice Jean MacFarland of the Ontario Court, general division, said the Toronto force was "utterly negligent" in the way it handled the probe. She condemned police for failing to warn the women about the rapist and found that police used them as bait to catch him.
The Jane Doe ruling is just one of several high-profile cases in which the force has come under scrutiny for its handling of investigations involving domestic and sexual assault probes.
Chow and Lindsay-Luby want an audit so that they can determine what police have done about implementing recommendations from inquiries and inquests dating as far back as 1982.
In particular, the councillors want to know if the force has acted on 16 recommendations from Mr. Justice Archie Campbell's 1996 report on the Paul Bernado case. Many of Campbell's recommendations addressed serious problems with the investigation into Bernado's predatorial activities as the Scarborough Rapist in the late '80s and '90s.
Bernado is currently serving a life sentence for the murders of schoolgirls Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy. Chow said she also wants to know if the force if the force will be reviewing the 200 recommendations handed down in recently by jurors at the inquest of Arlene May.
Report on domestic violence policy requested 5 years agoMay was killed by her ex boyfriend in March, 1996 after years of abuse. At the time of the murder, Randy Iles was out on bail for the fourth time for stalking, assaulting and threatening to kill May. He took his own life after killing her in her Collingwood-area home.
If the audit is approved by council, it will likely look into why police have yet to deliver an annual report on domestic violence policy, which was first requested by the police board five years ago.
A Toronto police official said senior officers are preparing a report for the police board outlining what has been done to change the way they carry out sexual assault investigations.
Meanwhile, Boothby played down media reports yesterday that he was considering an official apology to Jane Doe, saying no decision would be made until lawyers have reviewed the judge's decision.
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Created: February 14, 1999|
Last modified: February 14, 1999
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