The fallout has begun after three Toronto Police officers were acquitted of sexually assaulting a female parking enforcement officer.
CityNews has obtained a copy of an internal, forceful message authorized by Chief Mark Saunders, putting an immediate end to so-called “rookie buy nights”.
“Our Chief has made it clear that these events are not consistent with our policing culture,” reads a portion of the memo which acknowledges that while off-duty social gatherings are an important bonding element which encourages “healthy camaraderie”, members must be held accountable for their adherence, or lack thereof, to the Core Values of the Toronto Police Service.
The rookie buy nights are a rite of passage for new police officers. It’s also the ritual that started the night of heavy drinking that led to three male officers – Leslie Nyznik, Joshua Cabero and Sameer Kara – and a female parking enforcement officer having group sex in a hotel room back on January 17, 2015.
And there could be more repercussions to come.
Right after the three officers were found not guilty of sexual assault, Constable Leslie Nyznik’s lawyer indicated his client could be back on the job soon but it may not be that simple. CityNews sources close to Chief Saunders have told us he is angry about the officers’ behavior. The judge who acquitted them also made it very clear they may have been innocent of sexual assault but they were guilty of questionable morals.
In her ruling Justice Anne Molloy wrote that on the stand Officer Nyznik acknowledged many things “that were not to his credit” – like treating the complainant with “shocking insensitivity and cruelty” when he talked about calling in a prostitute right after the three finished having sex with her.
Malloy also cited Nyznik’s “familiarity” with staff at a strip club and the “priviledged treatment” he received in the bars that night, where free drinks and food were provided. At Pravda, where Nyznik’s ex-girlfriend worked, the group of officers was given food and a bottle of vodka worth $750 “all complimentary.”
The debate over whether the officers crossed a line and should be punished for their off duty behaviour has left the rank and file deeply divided.
Mayor John Tory acknowledged there is a certain behavioural expectation for public servants.
“I can’t say I’m not the mayor when I leave at the end of a long day – I’m the mayor all the time,” Tory said on Thursday. “Police officers, while they may be off duty, are police officers all the time.”
Chief Saunders is reviewing the officer’s behaviour with professional standards. Under the police services act, an off duty officer can be found guilty of misconduct if there is a connection between the conduct and “the reputation of the police force”