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Penalty decision for officer in Toronto police cheating scandal to come this summer

The fate of a Toronto police officer who is the subject of a promotions cheating scandal is now in the hands of a disciplinary hearing officer.

Lawyers for both the prosecution and the defence gave closing statements Friday at a tribunal hearing for Supt. Stacy Clarke, who pleaded guilty last year to seven Police Services Act charges including breach of confidence, discreditable conduct and insubordination.

Clarke testified at the hearing this week that she acted out of desperation to counteract anti-Black systemic racism when she gave confidential information to six Black constables ahead of promotional job interviews in 2021.

Defence lawyer Joseph Markson said that his client had been “running uphill and against the wind for 26 years,” referring to the effects of systemic racism.

Markson implored hearing officer Robin McElary-Downer to “invest” in Clarke by instilling a just penalty in the case.

The defence has proposed Clarke be demoted to the rank of inspector for a year to 18 months, before being automatically reinstated to the rank of superintendent. 

However, the prosecution has called for Clarke to be demoted two ranks to staff sergeant, with the opportunity to reapply to become a superintendent after two years.

WATCH | Supt. Clarke suggests she is not the first officer to give information to candidates:

Supt. Stacy Clarke’s misconduct was an act of desperation, disciplinary hearing hears

21 hours ago

Duration 2:25

The disciplinary tribunal for a high-ranking Toronto police officer continued on Thursday. Supt. Stacy Clarke attempted to explain her decision to provide answers to six Black constables ahead of promotional interviews in 2021. Municipal Affairs reporter Shawn Jeffords has the story.

Prosecutor Scott Hutchison called Clarke’s conduct “profoundly serious,” and asked McElary-Downer to imagine what would have happened if no one had discovered what was going on.

“We would have six new sergeants who had been led to believe that the way you advance in the Toronto police service is to cheat,” he said.

Clarke is the first Black female officer to reach the rank of superintendent with Toronto police. She was presented as the “Black female face” of the force, Markson said this week, referring to media coverage from the summer of 2020.

As a mentor, Clarke felt powerless to advocate for Black constables who had placed their hopes and expectations on her, Markson said. 

McElary-Downer said Friday that she will do her best to come to “an appropriate decision” that is fair to all parties, but also said it may be mid-summer before that happens, as she has a lot on her plate.

She also apologized to Clarke for that delay, leaving the case hanging over her head in the meantime.

“I know this weighs heavy on you,” McElary-Downer said.

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