INDEPTH: TORONTO POLICE: CORRUPT COPS?
Toronto's finest under fire
CBC News Online | Updated Nov. 21, 2006
Beating up drug dealers and stealing their money. Demanding cash from bar owners. Associating with a convicted criminal. Visiting casinos while on duty. Extortion, obstructing justice, assault, theft, perjury, corrupt practices. The allegations levelled against some of "Toronto's finest" are stunning.
The charges, which have not been proven in court, follow internal investigations and a 2½-year probe of police corruption conducted by an RCMP-led special task force that heard from 400 witnesses. The allegations of misconduct cover three areas:
- Allegations that members of Toronto Central Field Command's drug squad beat up informants, stole money from drug dealers, gave false testimony, falsified documents and faked search warrants.
- Allegations that Toronto 52 Division's plainclothes officers demanded cash from bars in the entertainment district in exchange for protection.
- Allegations of an improper relationship between some officers and luxury car-leasing salesman and convicted criminal Jeffrey Geller, who died in 2004.
Several veteran officers are among the accused, including the former head of the Toronto Police Association, Rick McIntosh, and two sons of former police chief William McCormack, William and Michael. In early 2006, Michael McCormack was cleared of charges related to allegations of an improper relationship with Geller.
In May 2006, six former drug squad officers were ordered to stand trial, which will start in January 2008. The drug squad officers have steadfastly maintained their innocence. They say the allegations are being made by criminals trying to escape justice. And they blame overzealous investigators and defence lawyers. Several officers have filed their own multimillion-dollar lawsuit against authorities.
Julian Fantino, who was Toronto's police chief until 2005, had repeatedly said any such incidents were isolated. He has urged the public to keep its faith in the 7,200-member force.
Former police chief Julian Fantino
During the course of the drug squad investigation the Crown stayed or withdrew charges in about 200 drug cases because of questions about the officers' credibility. According to affidavits filed by the task force 83 per cent of the charges laid by the drug team between 1996 and 1999 were stayed or withdrawn.
To date, the RCMP-led investigation has cost taxpayers at least $3 million. The amount paid by the city and the police to settle lawsuits launched by civilians has not been revealed.
NEXT: TIMELINE 1999: Drug squad allegations surface... lawsuit against drug squad officers... drug cases stayed.