Ontario weighs changes on suspending police officers with pay

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says her government is considering changing parts of the Police Services Act that restrict what a police force can do when an officer is convicted of a crime.

Under current law, suspended officers must be kept on payroll unless sentenced to time in custody

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne told a news conference Tuesday her government is considering a request from police chiefs for more power to suspend officers without pay. Current provincial law requires officers to stay on the payroll while suspended, unless sentenced to term of imprisonment. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

The Ontario government is considering giving police chiefs more power to suspend officers without pay, a change that police brass have been seeking for years.

The current provincial law states that a suspended officer must remain on the payroll and can only be suspended without pay after being sentenced to a term of imprisonment. 

Premier Kathleen Wynne told a news conference Tuesday that her government is reviewing that law. 

"I think it's something that we have to look at, it's something that we have to weigh and make a determination on," Wynne said. 

"That is something that the minister of community safety and correctional services is working on with the police services. I know that it's a live discussion at this moment." 

Police chiefs across Ontario have asked for such a change for years. 

The issue was raised again this week after Toronto police Const. James Forcillo was found guilty of attempted murder for shooting Sammy Yatim as the 18-year-old brandished a knife on an empty Toronto streetcar. 

Forcillo has been suspended with pay since shortly after the July 2013 shooting. Even though the jury found Forcillo guilty, he will remain on the police payroll until — and unless — he is sentenced to time in custody. It's unclear when that will happen, as his defence lawyer is seeking to get the verdict thrown out. 

Under the Police Services Act, the provincial law that governs police in Ontario, chiefs can only suspend officers without pay after they are sentenced to serve time. 

It has led to situations where officers have spent years on the police payroll while suspended for alleged criminal activity. 

Police chiefs from cities across the province have called for more power to suspend officers without pay, including in Toronto, WindsorHamiltonWaterloo region, and Thunder Bay.


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