Whoever forms the Ontario government after June’s election, one of their priorities should be immediate and wholesale reform of the laws that govern policing in this province. As evidence of its abject uselessness, I give you the case of Toronto Police Constable James Forcillo.
Forcillo was tried and convicted in the 2013 killing of 18-year old Sammy Yatim on a Toronto streetcar. Forcillo was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to six years in federal prison. He appealed. This week, his appeal was denied. He’s now a federal inmate serving a six-year sentence. He’s also still officially a constable in the Toronto Police Service until and unless an internal disciplinary tribunal decides his actions were “discreditable.”
To be clear, the actions in question are Forcillo’s conviction for attempted murder and his violation of the subsequent bail conditions. This is not just crazy. It’s offensive.
Killing a man, then being convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to six years in prison may not be enough to get you fired from Toronto’s police service.
Ontario’s Police Services Act mandated that Forcillo collect his full pay and benefits while suspended – from the day he was arrested and charged for murder in 2013, through his trial in 2015, through his conviction in 2016, through his appeal in 2017 – until he was arrested a second time for violating his bail conditions while awaiting his appeal. Throughout all that time, taxpayers in Toronto paid James Forcillo nearly $100,000 each year plus benefits.
Now, the Police Services Act demands that a disciplinary tribunal be held to determine if Forcillo should be fired.
Are you freaking serious?
James Forcillo had a criminal trial, for Christ’s sake! He was convicted by a jury, sentenced by a judge, and had his appeal denied by an appellate court.
What on God’s green Earth is an internal police service disciplinary tribunal going to add to the discussion? Will they decide that killing a man and being sentenced to six years in prison is OK? Will they decide that this is “creditable” conduct for a Toronto Police officer? Really? That this is even possible, is an offence against reason.
I don’t think it’s too much to ask that Ontario’s Police Services Act should not require an internal disciplinary tribunal when a member is convicted in a criminal trial and sentenced to prison. The justice system should be good enough. Any peace officer sentenced to prison – for anything – should have his or her status as a peace officer immediately rescinded. Their employment should be immediately terminated. The Act should be amended to say this.
Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government recently reviewed the Ontario Police Services Act and made all the changes they deemed necessary. This was not one of them. Presumably, Wynne feels the law is just fine as is. She’s wrong. Dead wrong.