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Toronto police to shut down bar in headquarters after drunk driving crash

The Toronto Police Service (TPS) is shutting down the licensed bar inside its downtown headquarters that’s served senior officers mostly below the radar for more than 30 years, after a possible connection to a superintendent’s drunk driving crash.

A memo went out to all civilian and uniformed senior officers recently that police chief Myron Demkiw’s office has decided not to renew the licence for the bar, which did not serve the rank and file but senior officers could access as a perk. A TPS spokesperson confirmed the move.

“The Chief’s Office, in consultation with the Executive Officer Lounge Committee, notified senior officers that the AGCO-approved licence will not be renewed,” TPS spokesperson Stephanie Sayer said in an emailed statement.

“The licence was used infrequently, and largely for formal functions, like retirements or when hosting dignitaries. Moving forward, the Service will apply for a Special Occasions Permit from the AGCO should we decide to host an event where alcohol may be served.”

Toronto Police Service's statement on its bar's closure. (CTV News Toronto)

It’s mystifying why there was ever a bar put into a police building in the first place, said former Toronto Mayor John Sewell.

“This is a bit crazy,” he said. “It’s very, very, very unusual to find a government agency having a bar in a government building.”

Though the force did not explicitly link the events, the decision comes in the wake of a drunk driving crash involving Supt. Riyaz Hussein, who was once in charge of internal discipline.

TPS Supt. Riyaz Hussein. (YouTube/Intercultural Dialogue Institute)

In April, a tribunal adjudicator found Hussein was driving a 2021 Ford Edge registered to the TPS on Highway 401 through Pickering. As he approached Liverpool Road, he crashed into another car going in the same direction.

An OPP officer observed he was unsteady on his feet and almost fell over, her decision says, and Hussein then failed a roadside screening test at 90 mgs of alcohol per 100 ml of blood — over the legal limit of 80.

“An open bottle of Appleton Estate Rum and a sealed bottle of Appleton Estate Rum were located and seized from the vehicle you were driving,” the decision says.

Hussein pleaded guilty in Oshawa court to driving over the legal limit, received a 12 month driving prohibition, a fine of $1200 and a victim surcharge of $360.

He also pleaded guilty to discreditable conduct at the TPS tribunal, and received a demotion to the rank of Inspector for 12 months. His lawyer, Peter Brauti said at the hearing that Hussein recognized his mistake and “a future mistake is not going to happen.”

A report from CBC News said records showed Hussein had accessed the TPS bar shortly before getting in the crash.

A connection between a crash and the bar could open up the TPS to liability, just as a regular bar can be sued for negligence in an impaired driving crash involving a customer, Sewell said. He wrote the TPS to complain.

“If a senior officer has been drinking there and is picked up for drunk driving, someone’s missed the duty of care on that one,” he said.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), which regulates bars in Ontario, said the bar had existed since 1989. It was inspected in 2005 with no infractions found, and an inspection in 2015 found only a “few minor, administrative infractions.” The location is assessed as low risk and has not sparked any complaints, the AGCO said.

It’s not the only police bar in Ontario — the RCMP’s headquarters in Ottawa has had one since 2011, and the Mounties’ building in London has had one since 1992. The Mounties didn’t respond to CTV News Toronto’s requests for comment on the status of those licences on Saturday.

CTV News asked TPS through an FOI request what liquor had been purchased for the bar and how much that cost taxpayers, but was told that’s the responsibility of the Executive Officer Lounge Committee, which never responded. Top Stories


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