Pubdate: Fri, 19 Oct 2007
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2007, Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Sam Pazzano, Courts Bureau
Bookmark: (Corruption - Outside U.S.)


Cassells Accused Of Breaking Rules In Talking To Media

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair denied allegations yesterday he was 
trying to muzzle whistle-blower Sgt. Jim Cassells over his charges 
police brass tried to sweep evidence of corruption by drug squad cops 
under the rug.

Cassells, a key member of the RCMP-led task force which investigated 
allegations of drug squad corruption, was on the witness stand at his 
own disciplinary hearing yesterday. He faces allegations that he 
broke police rules by talking with the media.

In cross-examination, Cassells admitted the task force didn't get the 
A-team investigators for the probe into drug squad misconduct.


Cassells has publicly alleged that top internal affairs cops either 
minimized, overlooked or ignored incidents of wrongdoing that were 
uncovered during the probe.

He asserts that Blair is biased in his case and should not be allowed 
to pick one of his own top cops to judge whether Cassells broke 
police rules by talking to the media.

He asked for an independent hearing officer to be appointed in the 
wake of a May Toronto Sun story in which he accused Blair of slamming 
him for going public and in which Blair denied any misconduct had 
been swept under the table.

"Blair then suggested the same bureau (of professional standards) for 
which I made assertions of improper investigation investigate my 
claim," Cassells stated in an affidavit presented at the hearing yesterday.

Blair, who was attending an in-camera session of the Toronto Police 
Services Board meeting at City Hall, defended the drug squad 
investigation as "exhaustive and thorough" and said it was vetted 
through the Crown attorney.

"We are trying to do our business as openly and transparently as 
possible," Blair told reporters. "I rely on the good faith efforts of 
investigators and prosecutors.

"We hold our people accountable and we operate according to the rule 
of law. Occasionally, some of our members may engage in misconduct," he said.


"But the vast majority of our members are honest, devout, law-abiding 
public servants."

Blair refused to answer questions on either the hearing or the 
ongoing criminal trial of the six drug squad officers.

The Police Act hearing was adjourned until Dec. 14.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom