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A Retired Associate Chief Justice Will Review Police Policy, Following Sammy Yatim’s Death

Retired Associate Chief Justice of Ontario Dennis O'Connor will lead a review of the way police handle emotionally disturbed people.

Police Chief Bill Blair at today’s press conference.

At a press conference this afternoon, Police Chief Bill Blair announced that the Toronto Police Service will be bringing in an outsider, retired Associate Chief Justice of Ontario Dennis O’Connor, to lead an internal review of the way police handle situations involving people who are emotionally disturbed, following the police shooting death of Sammy Yatim.

Blair first announced the review at a July 29 press conference, after Yatim’s death. Such a review is a legal requirement of the Police Services Act: the chief of police is required to launch an internal investigation whenever the Special Investigations Unit becomes involved in a case, as it has in Yatim’s. (The SIU, a civilian watchdog agency, investigates cases where police involvement may have caused injury or death.)

Blair told reporters that the investigation would be objective—hence the need for outside help. “This review must be objective and thorough,” he said, “and it must look critically at all aspects of our service, including our policies, our procedures, the training that our members receive, and even the equipment that they use.”

O’Connor is best known for serving as commissioner of the Walkerton inquiry.

Blair wouldn’t comment on any of the Yatim case’s details, because, he said, the law forbids him from doing so. Before being shot and killed by police on a streetcar near Trinity Bellwoods Park, Yatim allegedly exposed himself and brandished a knife at fellow passengers.

Comments

  • OgtheDim

    You know, somebody at either the Police Union or in Blair’s office must have sent a legal missive to the Globe; on the comments about this story, they have deleted anything indicating the behaviour of the individual cop is in question. General stuff they let go by. But question the individual cop’s role (or whether the judge is a cover for the cop’s behaviour) and your post is deleted.

    Heck I stated something along the lines that lots of Toronto cops follow their training and do their jobs well when faced with a person dealing with mental health issues, but this one didn’t and…………delete.

    They pay their lawyers too much.

  • Albin

    I’d guess that if O’Connor took the job, the terms for public disclosure are acceptable. Would be good if the judge can get Paul Cavalluzzo to serve as counsel for the review as he was for Walkerton and the Arar inquiries. His examination of Mike Harris on Walkerton catastrophe was one for the history books, and the provincial Tories have never been back.