TORONTO — Const. James Forcillo was found guilty on Monday of attempted murder in the shooting death of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim on a downtown streetcar in July 2013. But that won’t affect his police paycheque.
Ontario is the only province in Canada where police officers suspected or charged with an offence must be suspended with pay. Officers can only have their pay withheld when they have been convicted of criminal charges and sent to prison.
It’s a fact that doesn’t sit well with Toronto based lawyer Peter Rosenthal.
“In my view, the police chief should have the possibility of suspending a person without pay if the person is charged with a serious offence and if the chief decides there’s a good possibility he will be convicted,” says Rosenthal.
The Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police surveyed 52 police forces in 2012 and found that 129 officers had been suspended with pay, at a total cost to taxpayers of $6.4 million.
“Currently the inability to suspend an officer has many repercussions, not just a financial one, but in terms of public trust,” said Joe Coutu of the OACP.
“Everyone agrees that this is a problem, that in a time of fiscal challenges we need to be very effective and efficient with all the public money in terms of policing.”
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne was asked about the controversial issue of suspension with pay at Queen’s Park.
“I think that it’s something that we have to look at, it’s something that we have to weigh and make a determination on, but it’s something that’s been raised for a number of years,” she said Tuesday.
Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services Yasir Naqvi sent Global News a statement that acknowledges that the province has been working with its policing partners on the issue.
“It will be addressed in the new legislative policing framework following the public consultations on the strategy,” he said.
This year, for the first time since the Police Services Act was established in 1990, the provincial government is looking to make amendments and will consider the unpaid suspension debate.
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