Monday, 21 March 2011

The stupider they are, the faster they are promoted

I never ceased to be amazed when I read about stupid cops blundering their way through their jobs and then getting promoted, despite their stupidity.

Tony Warr started his career with the Toronto Police in 1965 as a police cadet. During his policing career he has been assigned to various positions and ranks within the Drug Squad, Homicide Squad, Sexual Assault Squad, Hold Up Squad, Computing and Telecommunications, and Unit Commander of the Intelligence Division and of 42 Division. In August 2005 he was appointed as Deputy Chief and at this writing, he commands 19 units of the Service with a staff of over 2,600 uniform and civilian members and an annual budget of over $250,000,000. He is supported by two Staff Superintendents who are responsible for Operational Services and Detective Services.

The question that was raised by the police board that oversees all of the police force is; ‘Is this man capable of running such a large operation?’ Whatever their thoughts are about that question, he is being fired as his services are no longer wanted. Tony Warr will almost certainly not have his contract extended past this upcoming summer which will hardly be surprising. I should add that once a police officer in Toronto becomes a senior police officer, he is hired on by contract and his contract can be cancelled at any time for cause.

I first learned of this police officer when he was investigating the mysterious deaths of 43 babies in the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children after it investigated the cause of infant deaths in its cardiac unit by using an experimental, inappropriate testing method to determine what caused the deaths of the babies. The test falsely indicated that as many as 43 babies were poisoned with the heart medication digoxin between June 1980 and March 1981. Tony Warr and another stupid police investigator were given the task of interviewing the nurses who were on duty during the times those mysterious baby deaths occurred.

When Susan Nelles, one of the nurses was being questioned by these two dolts, she exercised her right to refuse to answer any questions by the two police investigators without first seeking the advice of her lawyer.

Now this is a right that is given to all Canadians and other people in democratic countries. But to Tony Warr and the other dolt who were questioning this young woman; refusing to answer any questions asked by these two police investigators was tantamount to an admission of guilt for the murders of the babies. She was immediately arrested and later charged with the murder of four of the babies. It was later that it was established that the experimental tests that detected digoxin may have given false results with respect to the deaths of the babies.

A preliminary trial was heard by a judge who truly recognized the difference between guilt and innocence. I know this because in 1969 and 1970. he served as a member of a task force comprising of other judges, lawyers, legislators and law professors in which I was their chairman. Our task was to determine if innocent persons sent to prison or persons submitted to large lawyer’s fees should be compensated. We concluded that they should and that’s now the law in Canada.

Judge David Vanek presided over Susan Nelles’ preliminary hearing, which occupied forty-one days of evidence from over one hundred witnesses and four days of argument by counsel. The judge ruled that the Crown lacked evidence to convict Nelles and subsequently, the charges were dismissed.

Further, evidence presented at court established that Nelles was on duty on most but not all of the days when the babies died and that another nurse was on duty on all of the days when babies died. Nelles was not however on duty on the day of the death of one of the four babies that was included in the charges of murder laid against her. In fact, it was established that Susan Nelles was in Vancouver when one of the babies was being given the digoxin. This was critical evidence since both the Crown and the defence agreed that only one person was responsible for killing all four babies. If Nelles did not kill one of them, it followed that she could hardly be found guilty of killing the other three.

It is beyond me as to how Warr and his fellow dolt could have presumed that this nurse gave the baby the digoxin when she was thousands of miles away at the time. But then, when police officers are not too bright, they can make presumptions that beggar one’s imagination.

The judge also ruled that such requests to contact one’s lawyer before being questioned by police officers should not be interpreted as evidence of guilt. If the two police dolts had looked into this aspect of Nelles’ times she was in the hospital, they would have come to the same conclusion that the judge did. Well, perhaps not. After all, the judge was not a dolt.

Following this decision, the Government of Ontario appointed a Royal Commission of Inquiry under Mr. Justice Grange of the Ontario Court of Appeal to examine the circumstances of the extraordinary number of deaths at the Hospital.

These hearings took well over a year to complete. At the conclusion, the Commissioner's report contained statements in which he expressly agreed with Judge Vanek's decision in the preliminary hearing and generally approving of his handling of the charges against Susan Nelles while he conducted the preliminary trial of the nurse.

In his memoirs, Judge Vanek wrote "A defining moment, in my opinion, is an occasion when one is called upon to bring the full force of one's life-experience in the solution of a difficult problem. My decision in the Nelles case was a defining moment in my career as a judge."

I had the pleasure of arguing law in front of this judge for several years after his decision while representing clients in his court. Years later, he passed away.

Later, Nelles sued Roy McMurtry, the then attorney general of Ontario and he arranged for the government to pay a large sum of money to compensate her for what she had been put through. I was surprised and disappointed that McMurtry had to be sued before he finally approved of the payment to Nelles considering the fact that he also was a member of the task force I chaired back in 1969-1970.

I would be less than honest if I didn’t admit that Warr and his partner were under pressure to solve the murders of the babies. But experienced investigators don’t go off half cocked and charge innocent people with crimes purely on a hunch, especially when the hunch is a stupid one.

The Veteran's Administration Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan was the scene of a high death rate during the summer of 1975. Up to forty patients had died from an inexplicable respiratory failure. Since the hospital was a government facility, the FBI stepped in, and by August, they confirmed that eight men had definitely died from unnatural causes. Declaring a killer was at large who was using Pavulon, they warned that until they identified this person, any patient was vulnerable.

Pavulon is a muscle relaxant derived from curare, a drug that can paralyze. It has to be delivered carefully and when not in use is kept locked up.

The investigation continued for months, with suspicion centering on two nurses from the Philippines, Lenora Perez, 31, and Filipina Narciso, 30. They were the two who were on duty each time the patients in question were stricken. Soon they were both charged with murder. Several relatives of the deceased were called as witnesses during their trials, stating that the nurses had been seen in the vicinity of the patients, and even in their rooms, during the fatal seizures.

However, coincidence and sparse circumstantial evidence made up the prosecutor's entire case, and that wasn't sufficient for convictions. No one had actually seen them administer a drug and no one could link them to the Pavulon. The judge vacated the murder charge against Perez.

Even so, the trial for Narciso took thirteen weeks, with all the guns the FBI could bring to bear. Finally, she was acquitted, although both nurses were convicted of conspiracy and poisoning. Yet those convictions were appealed and the appeals court set them aside. At a second trial, the charges were all dismissed and the murders remain unsolved.

The fiasco over the Nelles case caused the taxpayers millions of dollars. Such an expense wouldn’t have had to be borne by the taxpayers if the two Toronto Police dolts had done their job properly and not accused an innocent nurse of murdering the four babies. The fact is, one or more bad apples doesn’t necessarily make the police force a stupid one but the public’s perception can injure the credibility of any police force when police dolts like Tony Warr and his fellow dolt run wild in their investigations.

There is another senior Toronto police officer who really isn’t that much different than Deputy Tony Warr. Staff Inspector Steve Izzett, 45, of the Toronto Police Force is facing a disciplinary hearing over allegations that include sexual harassment and bullying of colleagues. It could potentially end the career of this so-called one-time rising star.

There have been 180,000 pages of evidence that has been disclosed to him since eight disciplinary charges were issued in March 2009. The material to be used against him includes interviews with 50 police witnesses. The disciplinary charges are wide-ranging and unprecedented against such a high-ranking officer.

Izzett was the head of the Toronto police intelligence unit, which probes organized crime and biker gangs, when the allegations against him came to light in 2008. He took over the unit two years before the investigation against him was commenced.He is also accused of discreditable conduct related to alleged sexual harassment of a highly-respected female detective-sergeant while under his command in that he made unwanted advances toward his female colleague.

According to the wording of one of the charges; “You pressured her to have an intimate relationship with you, inappropriately made comments about her physical appearance and sexual orientation.” unquote

Other counts include allegations that Izzett displayed “tyrannical conduct” toward junior colleagues, such as addressing officers as “assholes.” He is also accused of soliciting officers “to act as spies” as well as disposing of official notes and trying to delete files from a Toronto police laptop which resulted in him being charged with deceit and destroying evidence.

He has been suspended with pay of $130,000 a year for the past 16 months. As with all officers suspended with pay, it is mandatory that Izzett "sign in" at 40 College Street headquarters twice a day. Special rules permitting him to sign in off-site have not been granted. That must be quite an annoyance for him since he lives some considerable distance from downtown Toronto where the police headquarters is situated.

The case was later turned over to the Toronto Police Force's Professional Standards Unit.

The heart of the case was disclosed “well over a year ago,” said Brian Gover, one of two outside lawyers retained by Toronto police to act as prosecutors at the disciplinary hearing. Mr. Gover further said in part, “While he is suspended with pay, he is gaining pension credits.” unquote He suggested Izzett is trying to stall the disciplinary process. Mr. Izzett has already unsuccessfully asked the Ontario Divisional Court and the Court of Appeal to throw out the charges.

Keith Hoilett, a retired Superior Court judge has been appointed to preside over the disciplinary hearing. He granted Izzett a one-week adjournment, but turned down a request to delay the hearing. “What is important in my view is that the show gets on the road.” said Mr. Hoilett. Izzett's first hearing under the Police Act charges will be April 27, 2011.

To say that many police officers are pleased that this senior police officer is currently under suspension is an understatement. Morale at the Toronto Police Intelligence Unit of which Steve Izzett commanded has greatly improved since he was suspended many months ago.

Officers in the Intelligence Unit complained to Deputy Chief Warr but being the dolt that he is, he gave the complaining officers a fatherly smile and then ignored their complaints because he was personally responsible for placing Izzett in that particular Unit and obviously, if he removed Izzett after hearing the complaints, it would appear to the officers everywhere that it was because of Warr's bad judgment that Izzett’s appointment was made in the first place. It’s not unlike breaking wind while in an elevator and then denying that the smell is emanating from your own butt.

The province's Special Investigations Unit (SIU) subsequently launched a probe after several officers brought complaints against Izzett, which included complaints that he bullied his own staff.

A police source said. “He used to keep inspirational posters beside his desk and was always boasting he'd be chief someday. He also boasted of having an 'uncle' who looked out for him; a term meaning a senior officer." I have later learned that his ‘uncle’ as he referred to was none other than former Chief McCormack.

Keith Hoilett, the retired judge hearing the case, denied Izzett’s motion challenging his jurisdiction and asking that the charges be dismissed because of procedural missteps by the Toronto Police Service.

What is interesting about the Izzett’s case is that his actions appear to have been done under the protection of that dolt, Deputy Chief Tony Warr and that dolt’s inaction has been done, or so it would appear, under the protection of the chief of the Toronto Police Force.

It was President Harry Truman who said it best when he spoke of responsibility. He said, “The buck stops here.” Well, as I see it, the two turds, Warr and Izzett are placed right in the centre of the chief’s desk and these two turds have been on his desk for a very long time. He should have cleaned that shit off his desk before it began to stink everywhere. The fact that he ignored the overpowering smell seriously reduces his credibility as the chief of the police force in Toronto. When you consider the fact that Chief Blair was in charge of the police force in Toronto during the G20 debacle when many of his police officers acted as rogue police officers and abused many innocent citizens, surely this must tell us that not only are the turds still on his desk, there are other turds on the floor of his office and truly the biggest turd of them all in the building is sitting at the chief’s own desk. It’s time for Chief Blair to be gone also before the stink in his office permeates the entire police force.

There are many really great and honourable police officers in the Toronto Police Force and they have a right to have their reputations protected from the likes of these three turds. Once these turds and others like them are gone, the public will give their police force the respect it seeks and deserves.

UPDATE:  In Tony Warr’s website, he claims he retired from the Toronto Police Service. That is not true. Tony Warr’s contract was not extended so in effect, he was turfted from the Toronto Police Service. He was a deputy chief prior to then and while in office, he commended the actions of the Toronto police officers with respect to their actions at the G20 debacle when hundreds of innocent citizens were arrested and imprisoned temporarily for simply exercising their rights to protest. The actions of the police were vigorously condemned by judges. The second turd in this UPDATE is the former chief of the Toronto Police Service—William Blair. His contract was also not renewed since the Board wasn’t that happy with his actions re the 20 G debacle. He also claimed that he retired from the Toronto Police Service. Not so. He was also turfed out of his office so to speak. I wrote Justin Trudeau prior to his election as prime minister of Canada. I suggested that it would be a big mistake if he appointed Blair as the Solicitor General of Canada. Blair was elected as a Member of Parliament but he didn’t get the role as Solicitor General of Canada. The third turd in this UPDATE is Steve Izzett. On the day he was to hear the ruling by the judge who presided at the hearing that was to determine if this turd should be permitted to remain in the Toronto Police Service, he handed in his resignation moments before the judge read his ruling. By resigning before the ruling was announced, he then became ineligible to receive his pension.  The ruling was that he was unsuitable to remain in the police force.    Stupidity is a common problem that we all have indulged in on occasion during our own lives but when police officers, especially senior officers are stupid, innocent people suffer. These three dolts paid dearly for their stupidity with respect to their legacies.  As far as these three dolts were concerned, their dismissal from the Toronto Police Service was a misfortune. However, had they continued to remain in the Toronto Police Service, then as far as the citizens of that great city would be concerned; it would be a calamity. 


James said...

I enjoyed ready your comments and understand well of what you speak.
James Cassells Retired Sgt. TPS

stephen said...

Great article. One thing you may not be aware of is that Tony Warr quit the Toronto Police Service to become a Fire Marshall. He didn't like that job and the Police Service hired him back at a Sergeant's rank. A year later he was promoted to Staff Sergeant. You are absolutely right the Police Service always seems to promote incompetence to the senior ranks.

Retired Toronto Police Officer

Sammy said...

The truth hurts, hopefully justice will prevail.

dick said...

Cannot comment on Izett, I don't know him. I do know Tony Warr. I always thought he was smart enough and thoughtful enough to make good decisions. I was always happy to appear before Vanneck; he too, was smart enough and thoughtful enough to do his job.

I do not have any idea about Mr. Batchelor. His English usage seems to fail from time to time; and I'd like to take my opinions from a person better able to articulate them without repetitive insults. He was certainly not known to me as a "lawyer of grand repute".

The Nelles case was never about police officers going for a quick fix. It was continually peer-reviewed throughout and was "supervised" by very well known Crowns Attorney.

It might be that there were errors. There were medical experts who gave opinions and suggestions. Were their solicited opinions directed towards the innocent or were they the product of the examination of circumstance?

I don't know the answers but the questions by Mr. Batchelor seem to disclose an egenda.

Ivan said...

Interesting article Mr. Batchelor. You present youself as a professional lawyer, yet you seem to care very little for the presumption of innocence.

You assert Mr. Warr to be an incompetent “dolt” and support your claim by documenting his mishandling of the H.S.C. investigation. Your attack on Mr. Izzett, on the other hand, is based soley on unproven allegations.

Your Truman quote “the buck stops here” is amazingly uncanny. Mr. Izzett is an intelligent and principled individual who built a distinguished career on by insisting on personal responsibility, both for himself and for others. Mr. Izzett was a tireless champion of the TPS and he strove to ensure organizational and personal integrity. I hope you Mr. Batchelor will demonstrate the same level of responsibility after Mr. Izzett’s trial.

Dahn Batchelor said...

I am forced to respond to Dick's comment about him not knowing me as a lawyer of grand repute. I don't know if he ever saw me representing any of the great many clients I represented in court beginning in 1964 until I retired in 2006, but I won 80% of my cases and on two occasions when I and my clients were seated in the spectators section of the courts while waiting for my client's cases to be called, two judges asked me to approach the bench with the lawyers involved representing the parties for the purpose of seeking my opinion with respect to the arguments given to the judges by the lawyers. This certainly doesn't make me what Dick said I was not; a lawyer of grand repute but I did earn the respect of the judiciary in criminal, family and civil courts and the Ontario Court of Appeal and the respect of my fellow advocates. Perhaps Dick saw me in court on one of my off days. Hey. Everyone has those kinds of days once in a while.

William said...

I have read your article and it is right on the money. Well written article.

Wendy said...

I wonder if anyone has gone back over the evidence i.e. the tests for Digoxin and done tests with today's technology to determine if these babes were in fact murdered? There is still one other nurse that was under suspicion. Shouldn't we finally know the truth?

burg said...


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Source: Police cadet interview questions

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Dahn Batchelor said...

Inspector Izzet was found guilty of the charges laid against him in the police hearing but he resigned from the police force a few minutes before the judge made his ruling.

Dahn Batchelor said...

I wish to comment on what Ivan said about the complaints against Izzet not being proven. The judge in his final report stated that the complaints about sexual harassment were true. Minutes before he told everyone in the room, including me, that Izzet was guilty of harassing the female detective, Izzet stood up and said, "I am quitting the police force." and then he walked out of the room.