Toronto

New completion date for independent review into Toronto police's handling of cases for missing persons

The completion date for the independent review into Toronto police's handling of cases for missing persons has been given an extension of seven months, to April 2020.

Reviewer, Gloria Epstein, said she needs time to hear 'widest range of views'

Gloria Epstein is the retiring judge heading up an independent review into the police's handling of missing persons cases. She spoke at the Toronto Police Service board meeting Thursday asking for an extension for the final report, saying she needs the time to make sure she hears 'the widest range of views.' (Turgut Yeter/CBC)

The completion date for the independent review into Toronto police's handling of cases for missing persons has been given an extension of seven months, to April 2020.

Gloria Epstein, the retiring judge heading up the review, said she needs the time to make sure she hears "the widest range of views."

The final report was originally expected to be delivered in September 2019, but Epstein explained that the extra time needed "reflects the large task that awaits me."

The Ontario Appeal Court judge was appointed in June following a motion by Mayor John Tory to go ahead with the review, saying there were "troubling questions" in light of the killings for which landscaper Bruce McArthur has been charged.

While the review won't look at the investigation into McArthur, who has been charged with eight counts of first-degree murder, it will examine how missing persons cases connected to the investigation were handled.

Police have come under fire from the LGBTQ community for failing to take the disappearances of some of the men missing from Toronto's gay village seriously for years — until January, when they arrested and charged the 66-year-old McArthur.

Judge to 'hit the ground running' in September

At the Toronto Police Service board meeting on Thursday, Epstein explained that she would "engage an advisor, as well as an advisory group, to ensure that diverse voices in the community are heard and contribute to my final report."

"We've already started the process of collecting relevant documents for examination, and we intend to hit the ground running when I officially commence my duties at the beginning of September," she said.

Epstein said she has chosen to retire from the court to head up the review, and "to devote my time and energy to this critical work."

She also outlined a plan for the launch of a website to ensure the public can access information on the progress of the review.

With files from The Canadian Press

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