What came first: law or enforcement?

If you were here for any of my rants (oh they are plentiful) regarding SIU or UEA .. here’s a nice follow up.

A beautiful quote was offered up when an interviewee told The Star that officers being investigated for alleged crimes [by the SIU] “get all kinds of breaks in the (criminal justice) system.”

You’re thinking, so what? It’s just a commentary – like your own Yolanda – so it means nothing.  True. However, I think the speaker has a bit more insight into the entire process since he is the boss of the Special Investigations Unit; Ian Scott

Full story below for your perusal. Or click here if you don’t believe me.

Law Society dismisses complaint against SIU

February 23, 2011

David Bruser and Michele Henry

The association representing 33,000 front-line police officers in Ontario has accused the head of the province’s police watchdog of “destroying public confidence in the criminal justice system” with a “bias against police officers.”

In a letter of complaint to the body that regulates lawyers, the Police Association of Ontario says that Special Investigations Unit boss Ian Scott, a lawyer, committed professional misconduct by telling the Star in an interview that officers being investigated for alleged crimes “get all kinds of breaks in the (criminal justice) system.”

The Law Society quickly dismissed the December 2010 complaint without an investigation, telling the Police Association there is “insufficient evidence” of misconduct to warrant even a request for a probe.

“It is not at all clear that (Mr. Scott)’s comment … demonstrates bias against police officers, as alleged,” Law Society intake counsel Christine O’Neill wrote to Police Association Chief Administrative Officer Ronald Middel.

“(Mr. Scott’s) comment does not raise a reasonable suspicion that he has deliberately undermined respect for the justice system.”

In an email response to questions by the Star Wednesday, Scott said he is pleased the complaint was dismissed.

“If the PAO had met their objective of having me disciplined by the Law Society it would have caused a chill among any lawyer in the province who wanted to comment publicly on police accountability issues,” Scott wrote.

Law Society penalties, if a lawyer is found guilty of misconduct, range from reprimand to a fine, suspension or dismissal.

The Police Association of Ontario represents 58 municipal police unions across the province, including the Toronto Police Association and the Ontario Provincial Police Association.

A Star series published last year revealed that police officers are treated more favourably than civilians when accused of shooting, beating, running over and killing people, some of them innocent bystanders.

In an article published in the Star Oct. 28, Scott acknowledged that police officers benefit from a presumption of good character, are rarely charged with crimes and if they are convicted, avoid jail time. He is quoted in the article as saying “police officers get all kinds of breaks in the (criminal justice) system.”

The Star does not have a copy of the Police Association’s complaint but it is summarized in the Law Society’s Feb.1 letter informing Scott he need not respond to the allegations against him because the regulator had already closed the case.

According to the Law Society’s summary, the Police Association alleged that Scott’s comment attacks justice system participants such as the Attorney General and defence lawyers and could lead to an officer charged with a criminal offence being denied a fair trial.

The Police Association called Scott’s remark “a breach” of Law Society conduct rules that is “likely to discredit the legal profession and demonstrated bias against police officers.”

The Police Association declined to comment when reached by the Star for this story.

In its response, the Law Society concluded that Scott was not suggesting the “breaks” were “inappropriate or unfair,” and the comment may have been “intended to deflect criticism of the SIU by attributing some of the responsibility” for matters discussed in the newspaper article to other parts of the justice system.

The Law Society’s letter concludes by saying Scott’s comment was “ambiguous at best,” possibly intended to “encourage constructive debate about systemic reforms to the justice system.”

On Wednesday, as part of its ongoing investigation, the Star revealed how police forces across the province refuse to cooperate with or even respond to the SIU. A series of letters written by Scott to Ontario chiefs of police and obtained by the Star through a freedom of information request show the SIU director’s mounting frustration at not being able to hold officers accountable. In the letters, Scott highlights myriad concerns with police behaviour, such as excessive force, notification delays and broken conduct rules, which have largely fallen on deaf ears.

Premier Dalton McGuinty expressed concern Wednesday over the Star’s findings.

“We expect our police officers … to do a number of things for us. One of those is to uphold the law and protect us,” McGuinty told reporters following a campaign-style luncheon speech in Vaughan.

“At the same time, we expect them to respect the law, respect their obligations, honour their obligations with respect to cooperating with the SIU,” the premier said.

The SIU’s job is to investigate serious injuries and deaths resulting from interactions between police and civilians, and decide whether to criminally charge an officer.

Scott has told the Star he wants the SIU to have increased powers, specifically, the ability to initiate disciplinary action for serious, but non-criminal offences.

With files from Robert Benzie

Original article on The Toronto Star website

About yolandalenin

I talk a lot. ______________________________________________________________________ I write even more.
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