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Systemic failure to promote Black officers under microscope as superintendent apologizes for helping racialized police cheat


In emotional and raw testimony at a disciplinary tribunal, the first Black female superintendent in the Toronto Police Service apologized for helping racialized constables cheat a promotional exam.

But the hearing also delved into how unfair the hiring process was to Black candidates to begin with and how a plan to fix it that was approved by a civilian oversight board was cancelled without warning months before her actions.

“It was tremendously important for me to take responsibility for what I had done. I know it was not the right path,” Supt. Stacy Clarke told the disciplinary hearing.

Clarke said she remained loyal to the Toronto Police Service despite the ostracization she felt after the misconduct allegations were made public.

But through her testimony and that of McGill Professor Wendell Adjetey, the tribunal looked at what Clarke called “the why,” which came down to a systemic failure to promote Black officers.

Adjetey highlighted a 2021 Toronto Police Services Board meeting where then-mayor John Tory asked the service whether it had structured the promotion process in a way that disadvantaged Black candidates.

“Maybe ask the chief and the service to do a little bit more to look into this and to decide if there’s something wrong,” Tory said at the time, pointing to statistics that of a pool of 58 Black applicants, 13.7 per cent were interviewed, and 1.7 per cent were hired.

Adjetey said outside the hearing that favoured officers often got special treatment, and thanks to the makeup of the TPS’s senior staff, that broke down on racial lines.

“They often benefited white men within the service. There was nepotism. There was favouritism and all types of other issues. And it’s common practice that senior officers when they mentor, they share information,” Adjetey said outside the hearing.

The proposed solution that Clarke championed was a new procedure that involved providing everyone with questions in advance.

“It was based on feedback from 500 Toronto police officers, not 500 Black officers, who thought the promotional process was unfair,” said Audrey Campbell of the Jamaican Canadian Association, who has testified for Clarke.

The Toronto Police Service Board oversees the police service, and even though it adopted the new plan, the police service didn’t put it into practice, Adjetey testified.

“Before its implementation, the TPS made an executive decision without warning to suspend the new process and revert to the original, unfair practice that the members identified in the external review,” wrote Adjetey in a report entered into evidence.

“It stands to reason that had the TPS implemented the new promotional process, Supt. Clarke would not have felt the desperate need to flatten the playing field by providing Black officers with the interview questions,” he wrote.

It’s not clear why the policy was never adopted. A TPS spokesperson said that the service would not comment while the tribunal was under way, but said it would respond after its conclusion.

“It was fully accepted, and these officers truly believed it would be implemented. And someone along the way decided that they weren’t going to implement all of it,” Campbell said outside the hearing.

It was in that context that Clarke shared the questions to six officers, she said.

Clarke became emotional as she described demeaning posts from retired officers, unflattering memes that circulated on social media, and one threat that prompted a security review of her home, as well as how all of this affected her children.

But she said she remained loyal to the TPS and hopeful for systemic change.

“I love my job. I love what I do. Some may say foolishly, but I still believe we can do what we say we are going to do,” she said.

Her testimony and cross-examination are expected to continue Thursday. The TPS has said it will not fire her, but it has said she will be demoted two ranks, reinstated after a year as an inspector, and then work her way back to superintendent.

Clarke’s lawyer has agreed to a demotion but says she should be reinstated as superintendent after a year. Top Stories

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