Windsor Police Chief’s fate a warning to Toronto’s Bill Blair

It’s good to see a Police Services Board exercising discipline over a Police Chief’s refusal to follow proper procedure and to meet the requirements of the Ontario Police Services Act.

According to Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin’s recent report, Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair received 82 letters from the Special Investigations Unit, and condescended to reply to only one of them.

And yet Toronto Police Services Board Chairman Dr. Alok Mukherjee is quoted below as saying that ““Toronto has in place a rigorous process managed by some highly professional and ethical senior officers to notify the SIU about incidents that meet the criteria… I have no reason to believe that SIU is not contacted in situations that meet the criteria for notifying …”

Dr. Mukherjee’s statement is simply not credible, in my opinion.

Does the SIU copy Police Service Boards whenever they write to Police Chiefs to complain about any omissions or wrongdoing?  If not, then they should, so that the Boards can be held responsible for failure to properly carry out their oversight duties.

The sooner Bill Blair is held to account for his effective contempt of Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit, the better.

Jeff Goodall.

Windsor Police chief steps aside

Toronto Sun
Joe Warmington: Dec. 22nd, 2011

TORONTO – Windsor’s police services board didn’t approve of their police chief not notifying the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) after an alleged police beating of an innocent doctor.

In fact, after a week of turmoil following Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin’s damning Dec. 14 Oversight Undermined report, they have turfed him.

Or should that be, nudge, nudge, wink, wink, Chief Gary Smith retired Thursday?

“He felt it was best for him to retire and step aside,” said Mayor and police board chair Eddie Francis, who said he too was not notified of the incident.

Dr. Tyceer Abouhassan alleges he was not given the same shot at dignity and respect back in 2010. The Windsor physician alleged he was brutalized while jogging in a case of mistaken identity. In addition to being charged with assaulting a police officer, the visually impaired man needed emergency surgery to deal with his head injuries, broken nose and detached retina.

To add insult to injury, he said, he was later “bullied” into perhaps dropping charges that later came to members of the Windsor Police. With highly skilled lawyer Julian Falconer as his representative, Abouhassan has launched a $14-million law suit against Windsor Police in what they allege is a massive cover-up.

It’s also in the report that the chief, who had a contract until the end of 2012, did not report this incident to the SIU. Police chiefs, according to Ontario’s Police Service’s Act, are mandated to immediately report all incidences involving death, wounds or sexual assault at the hands of police, to the SIU.

It seems some are loath to do it.

In a three year period between 2008 and 2011, Marin reported SIU Director Ian Scott wrote 227 letters to Ontario chiefs “reminding them of their duty to co-operate” in terms of notification as well as proper protocol in dealing with witnesses interviews and notes taken.

Four of those letters were sent to Chief Smith in Windsor. Chief William Blair received 82 from Scott. Marin’s report states the chief did not respond to 81 one of them.

One letter to Blair that jumped out was #131 in Marin’s report which states “Director Scott also wrote to Chief Blair on Aug. 24, 2011 about sexual assault allegations relating to a specific police unit. He observed that there had been four similar allegations in three years, and that one that had led in June 2011 to a conviction of an officer for both assault and sexual assault. He suggested that there appeared to be a pattern of misconduct involving certain members of the unit. The chief did not reply. “

So what you have is a senior Ontario justice official pointing out to a chief of police that, in addition to an officer convicted of grabbing an innocent man by the testicles, he had concerns about serial criminality amongst others and there was no response.

Why not?

Did the chief investigate any issues of misconduct raised in the letters, or failure to comply with the Police Services Act? Were any charges or discipline ever given as a result of information in letters from the SIU? What charges or misconduct was investigated? Was the chief ever asked, or did he ever offer to explain, not responding to SIU letters?

Another question is: Was the chief ever asked by the TPSB about the sexual assaults inside a unit or about any of the 82 letters from the SIU director or will he be?

TPSB chairman Dr. Alok Mukherjee e-mailed saying “Toronto has in place a rigorous process managed by some highly professional and ethical senior officers to notify the SIU about incidents that meet the criteria. In a few cases, where the SIU director has pointed out delay in notification, the Board has required explanation. I have no reason to believe that SIU is not contacted in situations that meet the criteria for notifying … That said, I expect the Board may well want to review the ombudsman’s report.”

The first thing they will see upon review of it is that Marin says six of Scott’s letters were about Toronto not notifying the SIU and 12 concerning delayed notification. They may also note in Windsor it appears one lack of notification has led to the police chief losing his job.

See original here.

See my “Policing & Justice-Related Issues” category here.