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Toronto constable demoted for role in cheating promotions exam

An officer who admitted to playing a part in a scheme to cheat the Toronto Police Service promotions procedure has been temporarily demoted instead.

Constable Horace Harvey — who had already pleaded guilty to discreditable conduct for his part in getting special treatment from a high-ranking officer — will be busted down from a first-class constable to a second-class for a period of six months, according to a decision by Supt. Shane Branton of the Toronto police's disciplinary tribunal.

“He made conscious choices to participate. His actions were contrary to the rank he was attempting to obtain. This even has caused extensive damage to the reputation of the service internally or externally,” Branton said in his judgment.

Harvey is one of several officers caught up in a police promotions scandal that has also ensnared a TPS superintendent Stacey Clarke, who was once spoken of as an option for chief of the department.

Harvey was attached to intelligence services and was a candidate to be promoted to Sergeant, an agreed statement of facts says in the case.

Clarke was mentoring him through the process — a mentorship that was supposed to end on November 25, 2021, well before his actual promotional interview on December 7, 2021.

But the statement of facts says the mentorship continued past the beginning of other officers’ interviews. Investigators seized Harvey’s cell phone and found messages containing pictures and audio recordings of real questions faced by others, the statement says.

Clarke herself sat on Harvey’s promotional panel, and neither of them declared a conflict of interest despite a “personal and familial relationship with Supt. Clarke for over 20 years,” it says.

Prosecutor Alexandra Miller argued that Harvey put his personal relationship with Clarke above his obligation to the Toronto Police Service.

“The lack of honesty and integrity are at the core of this incident, which makes it more serious,” she said.

Harvey’s defence lawyer, David Butt, said Harvey never sought out the special treatment but followed the lead of the higher-ranking superintendent because the TPS’s hierarchical culture didn’t give him much other choice.

“Realistically, if we take the informal culture into account, what power does a Constable have to say to that rising star Superintendent, not only will I not do it, but I will report you?” Butt asked.

Clarke is separately charged with seven counts of professional misconduct under Ontario’s Police Services Act for allegedly sending questions in advance to six constables.

The allegations against Clarke have not yet been heard by the tribunal, and Branton addressed them only generally.

“Superintendent Clarke’s repercussions as to her actions in this matter will not be addressed other than by commenting that fundamentally the level of responsibility and culpability rises as the position in the organization does,” he said.

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