This lax attitude causes officers to believe they can get away with abusing the law, said Ian Collins, Mr. McPhail’s lawyer.
“The case merits a full investigation from authorities independent of the Peel Regional Police,” said Mr. Collins, of The Traffic Lawyers. “These police lost the conviction they sought, but there have been no other consequences. Without accountability for police misconduct, there is impunity.”
For the second time in less than a month, a judge has set free someone charged by Peel Regional Police, and ruled that officers lied and intimidated suspects.
The double blow from the judiciary has done little to shake the police service that patrols the fast-growing cities of Brampton and Mississauga to the west of Toronto: It has no plans to investigate or discipline the rogue officers.
* Judge finds that Peel police officers falsified evidence
* Peel police officers fabricated evidence in prostitution case: judge
* Peel officer’s drug conviction leads to perjury charge against superior
Defence lawyers who regularly try cases in the area call it the latest example of a troubling and cozy relationship between the police service and the local prosecutor’s office, which has yet to wipe away the decades-old stain of a high-profile wrongful conviction.
With 1,855 officers, the Peel force ranks behind only those of Toronto, Montreal and Calgary. It watches over a sprawling melting pot of new immigrants.
“Peel is a petri dish of massive growth and bad planning,” said defence counsel Robert Rotenberg. “They are playing catch up, going from being a small town to being a big city.”
In the latest ruling, a judge found that Peel Regional police officers stripped a suspect naked to show him who was boss, and provided false testimony to conceal their misconduct.
Earlier this month, a judge found that Peel officers had misled the courts into believing that a suspected pimp, Courtney Salmon, was caught with fake documentation to identify a 17-year-old stripper as over 18.
Peel has a reputation for such hard-line law enforcement. But many officers who are criticized by judges avoid criminal charges or internal discipline because the force tends not to review their conduct unless the local Crown office requests it, which it does not always do.
“While there is no formal process, where there are issues relating to a witness officer’s testimony, the Crown may bring it to the attention of police,” said Brendan Crawley, a spokesman for the Ministry of the Attorney-General. “It is done on a case by case basis, and we do not track this.”
Attempts to contact almost a dozen senior police and police services board officials in recent days were not successful.