Punishment for high-ranking Toronto police officer involved in exam cheating debated in court

Lawyers at a Toronto police disciplinary tribunal dueled Friday over the appropriate punishment for the first black superintendent who admitted sending test questions to black officers before her exam.

Superintendent Stacy Clarke was desperately trying to level the playing field in an organization where sharing questions was an “open secret,” and connected officers received an advantage from the largely white staff, said her attorney, Joseph Markson, adding that also after the sudden cancellation of a plan to make the system fairer.

“There is nothing like this. “There is no precedent,” Markson said. “This is a head-on collision with the reality of anti-Black racism in society, in policing and in the advocacy process.”

But Toronto Police Service (TPS) lawyer Scott Hutchison said Clarke’s actions demonstrated a lack of judgment that would be inconsistent with the highest expectations of his rank and must be called out.

“This is so pernicious. It has the effect of one superintendent propagating to six new sergeants the belief that this behavior is acceptable. Who in turn become part of the leadership of this organization and the cancer grows,” Hutchison said.

Clarke admitted several charges of misconduct for submitting the questions and failing to recuse himself from a panel questioning a close family friend.

TPS has the option of firing Clarke, but has instead proposed demoting her two ranks to staff sergeant for one year, then promoting her to inspector and requiring her to advance from there.

Markson said “realpolitik” at TPS would mean a permanent demotion to inspector, which he said would be a harsher punishment than the recent case of a superintendent who was reinstated to his rank a year after crashing his car after drinking in Toronto police. Campus.

The court heard that Clarke felt “invisible” when the TPS leadership team rejected her advocacy for certain qualified black candidates at a meeting in 2021.

That was the same year the Toronto Police Service Board questioned why numbers showed black officers were not advancing at the same rate as other ethnicities and proposed a system that would share questions with everyone. TPS canceled that at some point before Clarke’s actions, the court heard.

No concrete evidence has been presented at the hearing to show that other officers have been sharing exam questions.

But the retired superintendent. David McLeod said outside the hearing that this is not just a rumor.

“There won’t be anyone there on that forum or talking to the media and saying it,” he said, noting that Clarke’s actions left a digital trail that has been easy for investigators to find.

“I’m not saying this should be the norm. It should not be the basis upon which opportunities, training and potential to succeed or fail are given,” he said.

Clarke’s effort, while breaking the rules, has earned him praise from some members of the black community.

“If you don’t have these organizations that are willing to accept that they are systemically racist and that they need to make those changes, then it’s up to people like Stacy Clarke to say, ‘Well, look, we’re trying to follow the rules.’ – I’m going to do what I have. what to do,’” said author Jason Peat.

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