Thursday 25 August 2016

The rise and fall of police inspector Steve Izzett (part 3)

Previously on the 8th and 11th of March of 2013, I published this article about this Toronto Police officer. I have decided to re-submit all three articles along with a fourth article that wasn`t written earlier.. I am doing this so in order for those of you who hadn`t read the first three articles about this disreputable man I am re-submitting the first three article and also the fourth article thereby giving you the complete background of the charges of discreditable conduct he was alleged to have committed and the final disposition of this man`s police career. 
 However, in this article, I will give you a brief summary of those charges that retired Justice Hoilett (who was the adjudicator at the police hearing) ruled were valid complaints against Izzett.
 I should however point out to you that Izzett originally faced nine misconduct charges, in which some were related to inappropriate or tyrannical management style. In May 2011, prosecutors Brian Gover and Brendan Van Niejenhuis announced they would call no further evidence to support those charges, leaving six of the remaining ones to be dealt with. Hoilett dismissed one charge relating to whether Izzett misled a superior about possessing two laptop computers that were the property of the Toronto Police Service.

 He was previously suspended from active service with pay in September 2008 and ordered to report to police headquarters twice daily, sign in and then he was free to leave the building after each sign-in and go home. His home was out of town so it was a long drive both to and from police headquarters considering he had to make the long drive twice a day.

 Permitting police officers to be paid while under suspension from their duties has always been a sore spot to the taxpayers. Since Izzett’s suspension began in September 17, 2008, he was still receiving his pay, According to the province’s so-called sunshine list; Izzett was paid $134,306 (which is $16,116.72 a month) in 2010 and could declare $5,857 as a taxable benefit each year for his continued use of his unmarked police vehicle under the terms of his compensation package and a police cell phone.

 Izzett was forced to face his inevitable fate in the hearing knowing that his $134,306 yearly salary and his fringe benefits such as dental, medical, car etc., would eventually come to an abrupt end as would his career.

The previous hearing

Staff Supt. Rick Gauthier testified that he became so impressed with Izzett’s “work ethic and management track record” that he recommended that he be bumped up in rank from staff inspector to superintendent. Unfortunately for the police force, Izzett certainly wasn’t fit to be a superintendent in the Toronto Service. In my opinion, he wasn’t even fit to be a police officer. So much for Gauthier’s impression of Izzett’s so-called ‘work ethic’.

On October 1st, 2008, the province's Special Investigations Unit launched a probe after several officers brought complaints against Izzett, including allegations that he bullied his staff. There was also a complaint by a female detective working under his command that Izzett was harassing her by trying to convince her that she should go out with him. These complaints were finally turned over to the Toronto Police Service for disposition.

After 25 years with the police service, almost half of them in leadership roles, Izzett was then facing charges under the Police Services Act which included oppressive and tyrannical behavior, deceit and destroying evidence along with the charge respecting the bullying of a female detective sergeant whom he appeared to have a schoolboy crush on. Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair actually gave her special authorization to carry her service gun at all times of the day and night to protect herself against her former boss.

 The police investigators in the Toronto Police Intelligence Unit are some of the toughest cops in the Toronto Police Service, with decades of experience on the job. They work on this city’s most covert crimes: gangs, guns and terrorist threats. Yet according to an investigator with Internal Affairs, many of these officers broke down in tears when interviewed about the “poisoned work environment” they endured in the Intelligence Unit under the command of Staff Inspector, Steve Izzett.  Those tears were from utter frustration. A sense of helplessness can bring tears to the strongest of us.
 There is a greater explanation about just how tyrannical this man was to his subordinates in the previous aforementioned articles.

 Now surely Izzett must have been fully aware that his dismissal from the police service was going to come about so one is forced to ask this rhetorical question, “Why was he still fighting these charges. Lawyers generally charge a fee of at least a thousand dollars a day when they are in court. His lawyer’s fees would be astronomical and this doesn’t take into consideration the money he had already paid his two lawyers prior to the hearing. I have to presume that he has paid between one or two hundred thousand dollars out of his own pocket to pay for the services of his lawyers.

 The answer why he had chosen to hang on is easy to understand. If he could hang onto his suspended position as a staff inspector until July 5, 2013, he could collect his full pension, even if he was fired right after that. Also remember that he was already receiving $140,163 in pay and benefits and when you consider that he had been collecting that money over a period of 57 months, that comes to just $535 short of $1 million dollars that the taxpayers paid to support this man who did nothing to serve the citizens of Toronto during the 57 months he was under suspension. There has to be something terribly wrong to permit this matter to have dragged on for such a long time at the taxpayer’s expense.

In March of this year, while reading his 49-page ruling, Justice Hoilett said that he accepted the complainant’s (the female detective) “core complaint” and rejected Izzett’s version of events related to her complaint. He said that while her evidence was not without infirmities during her testimony of several days on the witness stand, there was no sense of intent on her part to mislead. He said in his finding; “On the core issues, I have no doubt concerning the sincerity and the reliability of the complainant’s evidence [as] it has the ring of truth [that is] fortified by unexaggerated details. Equally compelling are those bits of evidence which tends to corroborate her allegations.”   unquote
 Hoilett also found Izzett guilty of misconduct related to installing unauthorized software on a service-issued laptop which resulted in the destruction of computer files. In his finding, he wrote; “The collective capability of the wiping software purchased and employed by Izzett betrays, in my view, a sinister purpose.” unquote                                               
 Izzett’s explanation for erasing 29,000 files from his police issued lap top on the day after he was charged was, (get ready for it) that the data he erased only related to family matters. Give me a break. If you accept that explanation, can I interest you in some vacation land at the South Pole?

All that was left to do was for the judge to award Izzett the penalty. It could be as little as a reprimand, or a demotion in rank and pay or a complete dismissal from the Toronto Police Service (TPS). That day of reckoning was to be on July 2, 2013.

The final hearing before former judge Hoilett

As I was driving my friend (a retired police detective of the TPS) to police headquarters on July 2, 2013, I said to him that I was sure that Izzett wouldn’t show up and that his lawyer would ask for an adjournment of several weeks which would mean that after he was fired, Izzet would be eligible for his full pension since the cut-off date was in three days hence.  

Sure enough, as God made little apples, Izzett didn’t show up at the hearing to hear his fate. And as I forecasted, his lawyer asked for an adjournment of several weeks. 

Read with interest as to why Izzett didn’t show up. According to his lawyer, Izzett had undergone a minor operation to have a pacemaker placed in his chest. Surgery to implant a pacemaker is considered a minimally invasive procedure as it definitely does not require open heart surgery. The procedure is so minor, it doesn’t even require general anesthesia and it doesn’t even have to be done in an operating room. Local anesthesia is given to numb the area of the chest where the procedure is performed, allowing the patient to remain awake while the surgery is performed without pain. In addition to numbing the area, a sedative may be given to help the patient relax or reach a twilight sleep state.

After surgery, Izzett would have to avoid magnetic fields whenever possible. This is because magnets can interfere with the function of the device and can cause serious problems with his heart. He should avoid placing small electronics such as a phone in his breast pocket, as they can interfere with the device. Tests that utilize magnets, such as an MRI, can disrupt the function of the pacemaker. In addition, strenuous activity or anything that would cause significant impact on the device should be avoided.     

However, his lawyer didn’t tell the judge any of this information. The excuse he gave for his client’s absence was two-fold, the first being that he shouldn’t drive a car as the car’s engine might have a detrimental effect on his client’s pacemaker. The other reason was that Izzett was experiencing depression         or words to that effect. Where did he get all that information from? It came from letters written by Izzett’s doctors, naturally. Furthermore, Izzett had called the police at headquarters the day of his final hearing saying that he was too ill to come into the headquarters for this required attendance of checking in before he could then go home.

The prosecutor (a professor at a law school) wouldn’t have any of that and neither did the judge. When it became obvious to Izzett’s lawyer that the penalty decision was going to be heard that day, his lawyer asked for a five minute recess so that he could call his client. When he came back, he told the judge that his client would come to the hearing and then he asked for a recess of three-quarters of an hour.

When Izzett showed up, he wasn’t wearing his usual smart-looking greyish suit, slight blue shirt and tie. His clothing appeared to be dishevelled and his hair was un-combed. And for a man who was supposed to be ill, he walked briskly to the lectern at the defence table.  He then told the judge that he felt that he didn’t get a fair hearing and that he decided that he was going to resign from the police service immediately. He then walked over to a senior police officer sitting in the front row of the spectator’s seats and handed him his resignation form. The he walked briskly out of the hearing room. The judge later remarked that he was surprised to see that Izzett had become remarkably well so soon after he was supposedly too ill to come to the hearing in that morning.

The first thing that came to my mind was; where did he get that resignation form from? His lawyer said to the judge that his client’s decision to resign was news to him. Didn’t they talk for a few minutes before they went into the hearing room? Does the lawyer’s remark pass the smell test?

The prosecutor said to the judge that even though Izzett had resigned, the judge still had the authority to proceed with giving his ruling on the penalty. Izzett’s lawyer argued that once a police officer resigns, the hearing should no longer proceed. The judge called a recess to consider his decision.

When he returned, the prosecutor handed him a copy of the law which clearly states that the penalty phase of such a hearing can’t take place after the day of the resignation but it doesn’t say anything about the penalty phase not being conducted by the presiding adjudicator on the day of the resignation. The judge agreed and said that it was in the public’s interest to proceed with his decision.

When he asked Izzett’s lawyer if he wanted to respond to his decision to proceed, the lawyer said something that seemed strange at the time and still seems strange even now. He said that he was no longer representing his client in this matter. Three thoughts immediately came to my mind. Had Izzett fired his lawyer just before or immediately after he entered the hearing room?  He had fired his previous lawyer.

The judge began reading his decision re the penalty to be awarded to Izzett. Because the judge speaks very softly, I had a hard time hearing everything he said but I remember one word that he said and that was “egregious” which means ‘shockingly bad’.

He reminded everyone in the room about his previous decision that he found Izzett guilty of all the charges that he accepted as being valid complaints. He also said that Izzett was unlikely to re-offend but then he added that that it was hard to imagine Izzett resuming any useful and meaningful role in the TPS. He also said he didn’t believe that the public would be best served by permitting him to remain in the Toronto Police Service.  He said that Izzett was to be fired in seven days unless he resigned first. Well as you know, he resigned first so the firing was academic.

That decision of the judge didn’t come as a surprise to anyone in that hearing room since it was such an obvious foregone conclusion.

Steve Izzett (he is no longer a staff inspector) did two really stupid things after he was charged with police misconduct. The first one was him refusing the offer to let him remain as a police officer with a reduction of rank and pay for one year. Had he accepted that offer, he would still be a police officer today and eligible for his full pension if he retired after July 5 of this year. His second stupid mistake was resigning on July 2, of this year. Did he really believe that the judge didn’t have the procedural authority to go ahead with reading his decision on the same day that Izzett resigned? Izzett was wrong in arriving at that conclusion and that was a big mistake on his part.

If Izzett had instead chosen to sit in the hearing room and wait for the judge’s decision with respect to the penalty, perhaps he would be able to collect his full pension if he resigned four days after the decision to fire him was read by the judge. He could even appeal the judge’s decisions with respect to him finding Izzett guilty and Izzett’s dismissal from the police force, but since he resigned from the TPS three days before his official retirement day, it would appear that he is only entitled to whatever contributions he contributed towards his pension. That will result in a very, very big drop in his source of income after that because he isn’t old enough to collect old age pension. However, I am mindful of a recent  case where a disgraced police officer in Ottawa not only had his payments that were given to him while under suspension subsequently clawed back, he was nevertheless actually eligible for his full pension.

I have said it before and I will say it again and again. There are many police officers who have risen to the upper echelons of their police forces and the higher they went, the stupider they became. This especially applies to Izzett and his mentor, Tony Warr. And both of these dumb cops were turfed from the Toronto Police Service as a result of their ongoing stupidity.

I suppose the one thing this disreputable police officer, Steve Izzett did that showed that some of his brain cells were in working order was to permit his hearing to be dragged on and on for almost five long years with those long delays in between and all that time, he was collecting his full pay. But doesn’t that tell you something about his character? To me, it would appear that his interests were in himself and not the general public he had sworn to serve and protect. Fortunately for the citizens of Toronto and for its police force and the force’s members, he is no longer connected in any manner whatsoever with the Toronto Police Service.

It is so intrinsic for every one of us to continue to remain as we are. I am however forced to ask myself rhetorically if former Staff Inspector Steve Izzett could have changed his character in his past if he had chosen to do so. In my opinion, that would have been highly unlikely. As I see it, his egregious conduct which he nurtured for so long a period of time led him on the tracks towards his inevitable downfall. Like a speeding train with its brakes failing, his destiny as a high ranking police officer was doomed to crash with explosive results. His future, his reputation and even his legacy was destroyed so dramatically and to such an extent so what is left is merely tangled rubble. There is truth in that old saw that the higher they are, the harder they will fall. Former Staff Inspector Steve Izzett has fallen so hard on his ass—he will never really be able to get up again on his own and Tony Warr, his former mentor won’t be there to assist him anymore either as he too has to extricate himself from the remnants of his own tangled rubble-like historical past with the Toronto Police Service.  He too is no longer with the Toronto Police Service. Why?  Because the Board on the recommendation of his superiors didn’t renew his contract so he too was in fact, ousted from the Toronto Police Service. 

This article was supposed to to be published Friday. Therefore  I will skip Friday and publish Part 4 on next Monday. 

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