An independent review of the Toronto police force’s handling of missing-persons cases has found that “systemic discrimination” contributed to failings in a number of investigations.
That’s one of the many takeaways from a massive report led by former judge Gloria Epstein that was released Tuesday morning. You can read the full report here.
Epstein found there were “serious flaws” in how missing persons cases have been handled in Toronto, and notes that “the police could have done better.
“To be clear, we are past the time for conversation only. The public is entitled to insist on transformative change with measurable, sustainable outcomes, timelines for completion, and accountability.”
The review was ordered in the summer of 2018 after the arrest of serial killer Bruce McArthur but did not initially include his crimes in order to preserve his right to a fair trial.
Its scope was later expanded to include that case after McArthur pleaded guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of eight men with ties to Toronto’s Gay Village.
The case stirred significant concern in Toronto’s LGBTQ community regarding how police investigated missing-person reports.
Many voiced fears that investigations were affected by systemic bias and discrimination.
In her report, Epstein found that some police officers had misconceptions or stereotypical ideas about the LGBTQ community, and that police also failed to keep the public informed.
“My extensive engagement with community members and organizations confirmed that many people deeply mistrust the Toronto police. This long-standing mistrust may not be directly related to missing person cases but is often rooted in systemic or overt bias or discrimination,” she wrote.
The independent review aimed to examine policies and procedures related to missing-persons cases, as well as how officers investigated the disappearances of residents who were later found to have been killed.
More to come.