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Toronto police union pushing for SIU inquiry

Mike McCormack, president of the Toronto Police Association, wants the head of the Special Investigations Unit to step aside pending an independent review of the agency.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

The powerful Toronto Police Association, the union that represents roughly 7,500 uniformed and civilian members, is demanding that the head of the Special Investigations Unit step aside pending an independent review of what it sees as two particularly contentious court cases.

The SIU is a provincial, civilian-staffed agency that probes interactions between police and the public that encompass death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault. Set up more than 20 years ago, and still the only such entirely independent organization in Canada, its relationship with rank-and-file officers has often been fractious.

But now, upping the ante considerably, the union leadership wants SIU director Ian Scott to quit until two decisions the SIU recently made are scrutinized from the outside.

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"We have no problem with civilian oversight, we totally accept it, but in these two court cases there are some disturbing allegations that make the association concerned about the conduct of the SIU and Mr. Scott," TPA president Mike McCormack said Thursday night.

"What we'd like is an independent inquiry. We want him to step aside until that's happened."

The two cases are to be spelled out in a press release Friday.

One involves a Toronto police officer charged with assaulting a 61-year-old man; the officer was acquitted this month. In the second case, an officer was accused of improperly discharging his firearm; he was acquitted in October.

"We need to have confidence in civilian oversight," said Mr. McCormack, the son of former police chief Bill McCormack.

"But there also has to be confidence in a full, frank investigation of these cases. This goes to the top, and Scott's ultimately responsible for the SIU; he's the leader of that organization. The allegations that came out in these two court proceedings have left our organization very concerned.

"There were some directions given to SIU officers involving a male who was wanted for a violent domestic assault – not one of our members, it was the complainant. In the other case, the SIU invoked its mandate, and we're not quite clear why it did. It appears from the court case that it was outside the scope of its mandate."

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At The Globe and Mail since 1982, in assorted manifestations, chiefly crime reporter, foreign correspondent and member of the Editorial Board, Tim is now retired. More


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