Lawsuits against the Toronto Police Services

There are hundreds of complaints filed against the Toronto Police Services every year, plus many more incidents where citizens believe a complaint is warranted but not worth the effort. Many are dismissed summarily, whether or not they have merit. And, we don’t have any figures because no government body is required to oversee and issue the statistics. It’s up us to research the material.
In additional, where there is a financial resolution to a dispute, we are not entitled to know the details, even though tax dollars are involved, either directly or indirectly as liability insurance premiums.
TPS is quick to deflect criticism, and Mark Pugash is adept at the work he does. That’s why it’s important to take him to task when the opportunities arise, even if there’s a delay is getting to it.

December 9, 2014

Mark Pugash, Director,
Unit Commander, Corporate Communications,
Toronto Police Services,
40 College Street,
Toronto, ON M5G 2J3

Re: Man reeling from arrest seeks closure in court
Toronto Star, September 24, 2014

Dear Director Pugash:
“It’s important to note that it is not at all unusual for lawsuit claims to fail in court. Unfortunately, the Toronto Star provides a platform for unproved claims but rarely, if ever, lets its readers know when the claims it prints are judged to be baseless.” This is part of your response when Wendy Gillis asked about Tyrone Sparks’ multi-claim suit against the Toronto Police Services as printed in the above article.

You’re right. Outcomes rarely appear in print. In an email exchange I had with the Star’s Jim Rankin in June of 2013 on just this subject, he admitted they could do a better follow-up job but noted that neither party to an action is prone to report any outcome. As well, he agreed with my assessment that a resolution, particularly where gag orders prevent the disclosure of details, is generally not newsworthy.

I have a lengthy list of newspaper items of legal actions launched against the police where nothing further appears. More pertinent though is “Mayor calls for review of police litigation” from the Globe and Mail’s Tuesday March 15, 2005 edition, where David Miller “was responding to a CBC Radio report that the city spent more than $30-million on more than 8,000 lawsuits against the police since 1998.” The figures stagger! Consider also the additional number of people who may believe they had grounds for a complaint but just didn’t bother filing. Then too, how do the last ten years stack up?

Here’s a suggestion. Given your position with the Toronto Police Services, the resources you have and your access to the media, plus the sense that you feel the TPS is ill-served by the press, why don’t you publish the outcomes of these varied and many actions?

Yours truly,

Charles H. Klassen
cc Wendy Gillis, Toronto Star
turnoverarocktoday.com

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