Thursday, July 23, 1998
Police chiefs want appeal of Doe caseAssociation says front-line officers will bear verdict
The province's highest-ranking cops believe the landmark Jane Doe decision should be appealed because it places officers in a no-win situation, says the president of the Ontario Association of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police.
"If we are not protected from liability with respect to everything we do -- even those things that we do in good faith according to the highest standards of the profession -- and later on, we're second-guessed and found liable, you can see the dilemma for the police," Julian Fantino, association chair and London's chief of police, said yesterday.
He will take over as chief of York Region police next week. Fantino said the association is worried about liability for police services and individual officers. And he added that frontline officers might have to work with the worry that an inadvertent wrong step in an investigation could land them in court.
Earlier this month, Madame Justice Jean MacFarland ruled Doe's constitutional rights were violated when police neglected to inform her that a serial rapist was stalking her neighborhood, and awarded her $220,000 in damages and $2,000 a year for the next 20 years.
Doe, now in her early 40's, received apologies for her 12 year ordeal from Toronto City Council and police Chief David Boothby.
Doe's lawyer said last night that an unsuccessful appeal of the decision could cement the decision in law. "The (police) agenda just can't be that they're scared of the precedent because right now, it's not a binding precedent," said Sean Dewart. "It's a case, but it's not a binding case. It's not the law in Ontario. "Why don't they spend their time and energy and public resources dealing with the problem?" Dewart said.
Fantino said the association wouldn't be taking the case to an appellate court, and suggested the real interest in an appeal should lie with the police services board of the province.
More lawsuitsNorm Gardner, chair of Toronto's police services board, said he thought an appeal from his board unlikely. However, he said he intends to tell city council the Doe decision could result in more lawsuits against police.
"If there's not going to be an appeal -- at least on the judge's reasons for making the decision -- then you might as well start making settlements and handing out cheques," he said.
Fantino stressed it was the legal issues that troubled the association, not Doe's victory. "We do not take issue with the determination made by the judge with respect to Jane Doe, and we certainly empathize and recognize her difficulties in all of that," he said.
In her decision, the judge said she didn't believe police took the crime of sexual assault seriously, and called the police investigation of serial rapist Paul Douglas Callow "utterly negligent."
Callow was arrested in October, 1986, after a tip from a probation officer. He pleaded guilty to a series of rape and is serving a 20-year prison term.
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