OPP leadership must be free of politicial suspicion

If the drift of Canada towards a police state has not yet affected you directly, you would do well to recall the words of Pastor Martin Niemoller, writing in Germany before his arrest in the 1930s: "The Nazis came for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics and I was a Protestant, so I didn't speak up....by that time there was nobody left to speak up for anyone."

Re: OPP leadership must be free of politicial suspicion

Postby Thomas » Sat Mar 16, 2019 11:41 am

Just five days after Doug Ford's long-time friend and Toronto Police Supt. Ron Taverner, 72, withdrew his name from consideration for the province's top police job, the Ontario government has announced a new choice — one who hasn't met the premier.

Thomas Carrique, a 29-year veteran of the York Regional Police, which covers municipalities just north of Toronto to the southern border of Lake Simcoe, will take the helm at the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) for a three-year term starting on April 8.

His hiring is intended to clear the bad blood and calm the tumult around Taverner, whose appointment led to widespread complaints of government interference in policing led by OPP deputy commissioner Brad Blair.

The government fired Blair, another candidate for the job, earlier last week after he launched a legal challenge to decide whether the province's ombudsman should be forced to investigate the alleged conflicts of interest in Taverner's appointment.

Speaking at a news conference at York Regional Police headquarters in Aurora, Ontario, where he currently serves as the force’s deputy chief, an emotional Carrique said he is “extremely honoured” to be taking the job.

"No one is more surprised than me," he told reporters Monday.

Carrique said he did not originally apply for the position, and was approached last week about taking on the job by deputy community safety minister Mario Di Tommasso.

Di Tommaso, who used to be Taverner’s boss when he served with Toronto Police, was also a member of the three-person hiring committee that appointed Taverner to the top provincial cop position.

Carrique said he and Di Tommaso had a "very lengthy and deep discussion" about policing in the province and spoke about the importance of having a "permanent, fixed leadership moving forward." (The police service has been without a permanent commissioner since Nov. 2018.)

The hasty choice was made "to move forward," Jones told reporters while standing next to Carrique, adding that the search began last week after Taverner's withdrawal.

Jones said she had no discussions with Taverner prior to receiving his memo announcing his withdrawal last Wednesday. After that, "we moved decisively as a government to find an individual who would serve as the incoming commissioner and I'm very pleased with the choice," she said.

When asked about how Carrique was chosen, Jones said a number of candidates were assessed and reviewed but that she wouldn't "get in an HR discussion" about the process.

Given Blair’s complaints that the appointment process has been riddled with personal interests, reporters questioned if Carrique’s appointment was made by an independent process minus any interference from Di Tomasso or the premier.

Jones said Di Tomasso is "an excellent deputy" whom she relies on for "advice and counsel" but assured reporters that the decision was made by cabinet as a whole.

The role is a "critical one," she said and the right candidate had been chosen. "It's important for our government to show we are moving forward."

'I have no relationship whatsoever with the premier or the Ford family'

Both Jones and Carrique fielded many questions about his relationship with the premier and Di Tommasso and repeated that he had no relationship with either of them.

"I have no relationship whatsoever with the premier or the Ford family. I have not met the premier before," he said.

Di Tommaso and Carrique are "professional acquaintances," he said, from when they both served as inspectors on police management teams that oversaw joint operations in the Greater Toronto Area.

"I have no personal relationship with the deputy minister...It was a professional relationship and only when jurisdictions crossed lines," he said.

When asked if he would support an external investigation into Taverner's appointment, Carrique said that's not a question he should be addressing.

"I have no connection to any previous processes," he said, adding that he knew Taverner from "years of policing on a shared jurisdictional boundary."

"I have not spoken to Supt. Taverner since the initial process started to today's date," he added.

The two interacted over the last number of years on the legalization of cannabis and the work that was being done by the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (in which Carrique serves as co-chair of the organized crime committee), he said.

"Operationally, there is no question that the OPP remains independent," Carrique said. "There's not a direct connection between the premier of the province and the commissioner of the OPP."

"I'm accountable to the deputy minister of community safety," he said, who willl provide direction. "Save and except, there needs to be a close working relationship to ensure adequate resouces, funding and support."

Jones interjected to say "directing the police in any way is inappropriate. It always has been and always will be."

Carrique added: "In my role as deputy chief I frequently have conversations with elected officials. A conversation with an elected official or their staff is not inappropriate. We must communicate, we must have a mutual understanding of our respective roles within law and within society."

'Ford should 'fully disclose the details of the new hiring process'

Opposition leaders welcomed Carrique's appointment but urged the government to be more transparent about how the decision was reached.

Green Party leader and MPP Mike Schreiner said he is "pleased" with Carrique's appointment but concerned as to how the government got here and called on the government "to fully disclose the details of the new hiring process."

"The quick replacement following Mr. Taverner’s withdrawal raises questions," Schreiner wrote in a statement. This scandal broke the trust of the public, so we need to know that a sound process was followed to arrive at Mr. Carrique, free from political interference or conflict of interest."

NDP leader Andrea Horwath said in a statement that the appoinment "does not give the public confidence Doug Ford has learned his lesson about police independence."

"In light of Doug Ford’s record on this file and the public’s lack of confidence in the integrity and transparency of the Ford government, I would expect the minister to provide a full public report on the process it followed in hiring Deputy Chief Carrique," she said.

Carrique replaces Ron Taverner, who was appointed last November after the initial job posting was lowered by two ranks to allow him to be eligible. Initially, the job posted demanded applicants have a minium rank of deputy chief, which Carrique meets.

Blair also filled the role on an interim basis while Taverner's appointment was frozen, and was replaced by Gary Couture, also on an interim basis.

An Order in Council was signed on March 8, 2019 to confirm his appointment by cabinet. Previously, a recruiting firm had been hired to aid the search that led to Taverner's appointment.

According to his biography on the York Regional Police website, Carrique is currently responsible for investigations and support and has previously worked in a variety of areas in the force including uniform patrol, criminal investigations, investigative services, traffic, marine, public order and the administration and operations branches.

He holds a certificate in terrorism studies from Scotland's University of St. Andrews in Scotland and is a graduate of the National Policing Improvement Agency's International Commanders Program in the United Kingdom and the United States Department of Justice Drug Unit Commanders Academy.

Moving forward, his priorities will include combating guns and gangs, illegal drugs, traffic safety and “to ensure we are doing everything in our power to rescue the victims of human trafficking and bring to justice” those who exploit them, he said.

Carrique also committed to “data-driven, evidence-based decisions that inform strategy.”

"I will work hard each and every day to earn the trust and confidence of members of the OPP and citizens of this province."

Taverner’s appointment continues to be the focus of a conflict of interest investigation by Ontario’s integrity commissioner. Ford has repeatedly denied any involvement in the decision.

All three opposition parties have called for a public inquiry.

Editor's note: This story was updated on March 11 at 4:00 p.m. with a statement from NDP leader Andrea Horwath.

https://www.nationalobserver.com/2019/0 ... -withdraws
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New OPP boss to focus on gangs and guns

Postby Thomas » Sat Mar 16, 2019 11:43 am

Monday’s appointment of York Regional Police Deputy Chief Thomas Carrique as the new OPP commissioner “couldn’t happen to a nicer guy”, the local force’s association president said.

“I’ve known Tom for the 29 years he’s worked with York Regional Police, and Tom’s personality is such that he’s going to go in there and go right to work at achieving the OPP’s goals as a police service,” York Regional Police Association president Todd Sepkowski said.

The Ontario government’s appointment of a new OPP boss has been mired in controversy since the post was vacated in November 2018 by retiring chief Vince Hawkes.

A storm of criticism blew up later in November when the Ford government announced longtime Toronto Police Service Supt. Ron Taverner, reported being a friend of Doug Ford, as its top pick for the head of the OPP.

Nearly three months of fallout from the Taverner appointment ensued, which included Taverner himself withdrawing his name last Wednesday, an investigation launched by Ontario’s Office of the Integrity Commissioner, and the March 4 ousting of vocal critic and OPP Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair.

In a March 11 statement on Carrique’s appointment, Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Sylvia Jones said: "Deputy Chief Carrique will help bring an outside vision to the OPP and work with talented officers and civilian staff to bring forward positive change.

"The Ontario Provincial Police has been without a permanent commissioner since Nov. 2, 2018. The rank-and-file deserve certainty and clarity. Deputy Chief Carrique will be a strong voice for the frontline officers we all depend on to keep our communities safe," Jones stated. "Deputy Chief Carrique's extensive experience is important as the OPP works to tackle challenging files such as human trafficking and the ongoing fight against guns and gangs."

Sepkowski, himself an almost 33-year veteran with York police, said he came up through the ranks with Carrique and worked with him both on the frontlines of policing, as well as in his role as the head of the labour organization that represents more than 2,200 uniformed officers and 620 civilian members of the service.

“I think the police service and politics are two different beds and I think Tom will keep it that way,” Sepkowski said. “It’s been a pleasure working with Tom and we’re sad to see him go, it’s too bad for York. But I think the OPP have a good person. I wish him all the best and I know that the women and men on the frontlines will be pleased.”

At a news conference Monday morning at York Regional Police’s Aurora headquarters, Carrique choked up with emotion as he called the force “one of the finest police services in this country”.

“I can tell you that no one is more surprised that I’m standing before you today with this announcement,” Carrique said. “York Regional Police has been my home, my passion, and my family for 29 years. ...I hope to benefit from my experience here in my new role. I have learned a great deal from some of York Regional Police’s top leaders and the extremely dedicated sworn and civilian staff.”

Carrique said that he didn’t apply for the job and was surprised when contacted by Community Safety Deputy Minister Mario Di Tommaso.

In response to questions about Tavener’s controversial appointment and relationship with the Ford family, Carrique said he doesn’t have a relationship with the Ford family and, in fact, hasn’t met Premier Doug Ford.

York police Chief Eric Jolliffe said Carrique's appointment is "a significant loss" to the local force and community.

“York Regional Police is proud that Deputy Carrique’s experience, talent, and dedication has been recognized by the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Sylvia Jones, and the Government of Ontario, as he assumes this prestigious and challenging position,” said Chief Jolliffe.

“However, we recognize as well this is a significant loss for our organization, our community and the members of York Regional Police who have, for almost 30 years, benefited from Tom’s extensive knowledge, dedication to the community, stellar leadership qualities and unwavering integrity.”

Carrique begins a three-year appointment as the OPP’s top boss April 8, based out of provincial police headquarters in Orillia.

Since joining the York force in 1990, Carrique has worked in a variety of roles, including most recently on the executive command team as deputy chief of investigations and support. Over nearly three decades, the veteran officer has also worked on uniform patrol, criminal investigations, investigative services, traffic, and also served as the Organized Crime Bureau’s officer in charge and as a Special Investigation Unit liaison officer.

According to the York police website, Carrique is a gold medallist at the Canadian Police Olympics and member of the Canadian Police Memorial Ride to Remember team.

He also served for six years as a governor on the Seneca College board and is currently the vice-chairperson of the St. John Ambulance - York Region Branch, including serving as its community services committee chairperson.

Carrique currently is co-chairperson of the Canadian Association Chiefs of Police organized crime committee and is a member of the Criminal Intelligence Service of Ontario’s governing body.

He is the recipient of the Ontario Premier's Award of Excellence for Fighting Crime, the Governor General's Police Exemplary Service Medal, and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee Medal. He has also been appointed by the Governor General of Canada as a Member of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces and a Member (SBStJ) of the Order of St. John.

Newmarket Mayor John Taylor has worked closely with Carrique over the years and said he a “great guy who is held at the highest regard by everybody who works with him”.

“He is a highly valued and respected leader of York police and he’ll be missed here in York Region, but the OPP is fortunate to have him and he will undoubtedly continue to contribute to the province as he did here in York Region,” Taylor said.

“Tom’s been an outstanding deputy chief and it is, once again, a demonstration of the ability of York Region to help support and grow phenomenal leaders that are often sought by other jurisdictions.”

https://www.baytoday.ca/local-news/new- ... ns-1319170
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