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Toronto missing persons investigations review draws to a close; report expected next year

The headquarters of the Toronto Police Service are shown in a 2014 file photo. CITYNEWS

After almost two years, and after some 1,200 people having their say, now it’s time to figure out what is right and wrong in the way Toronto police handle missing person cases.

Mark Sandler is the lead counsel to the Independent Civilian Review of Missing Person Investigations in Toronto. He says in total the review heard from 1,200 people. This included everyone from the most marginalized members of society to police officers.

The process began in Dec. 2018, and the final town hall meeting was held in a virtual format last Wednesday night.

Undoubtedly, says Sandler, the cases connected to the Bruce McArthur serial killings became the prime focus of their work.

McArthur preyed on men from Toronto’s gay village, who were later reported missing but not found until long after they had been killed.

Sandler says there is no way to capture what all 1,200 people had to say —  but the comments covered a wide spectrum.

“We heard quite a bit of anger,” he said.

He points out there was no Missing Persons Unit within Toronto Police until the aftermath of the McArthur killings.

One idea Sandler says that came up during the consultations was that police adopt a model used in the United Kingdom– community groups, social agencies, even civilians help out with the missing person cases — even when there has been no apparent crime.

Sandler adds that the model was already being considered before the hearings began.

Retired judge, Gloria Epstein is set to release her report and recommendations in late Jan. 2021.

People can still submit written comments online.

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