Punishment for top Toronto police officer involved in exam cheating to be decided in summer

A judge will decide the punishment for a high-ranking Toronto police officer who admitted helping black officers cheat a promotion system in what she called a desperate attempt to level the playing field.

Lawyers for a Toronto Police Service (TPS) disciplinary tribunal presented their closing arguments to Robin McElary-Downer on the Superintendent’s case. Stacy Clarke, who admitted to texting photos of test questions before officers participated in a panel.

Sharing questions was already an “open secret,” and connected officers received help from mostly white senior staff, said his lawyer, Joseph Markson, adding that Clarke’s actions stemmed from frustration after a plan to make the system more fair. it was cancelled.

“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 TPS attorney Scott Hutchison said Clarke’s actions demonstrated a lack of judgment that would be inconsistent with the highest expectations of his rank and should 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.

McElary-Downer said she should have a decision by mid-summer, when the hearing concluded Friday.

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 a police car. without identification while driving while intoxicated.

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.

The hearing was attended by Roy Williams, the first black member appointed to the Toronto Police Service Board from 1987 to 1993.

He said the Board needs to get to the bottom of how its policies were not followed and wrestle with what he worried was a much larger problem of insubordination.

“The Board is a supervisory body. They are responsible. “It’s important to keep your feet to the Chief’s fire,” he said. “If there is no accountability, there is no action.”

He said black history is filled with people who made great sacrifices to promote equity.

“The sentence Superintendent. “Clarke’s situation will be serious and he will pay a high price,” he said. “It’s a shame that we have always paid because [we] We have had this skin color and only then have we been able to progress.”

The Toronto Police Service did not answer questions about what happened to the policy. However, a spokesperson said that in 2023 the Service revamped its promotion process to reduce subjectivity.

“We want to emphasize our unwavering commitment to rebuilding trust and eradicating all forms of discrimination, including anti-Black racism, from our ranks and the services we provide to the community,” Stephanie Sayer wrote in a statement.

It said that since 2020, cadet classes have increased in racial diversity by 33 percent, including a 39 percent increase in Black cadets, and uniformed senior officers have increased from 18 percent in 2019 to 25 percent in 2022. .

“Our commitment to rebuilding trust remains strong. “We will continue to take proactive steps to engage with our communities, uphold accountability, and maintain transparency in everything we do,” Sayer wrote.

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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