Toronto Star continues its, er, dogged reporting on the Special Investigation Unit

Toronto Star continues its, er, dogged reporting on the Special Investigation Unit

Peel police refused to cooperate with the SIU (Image: Dave Connor)

The Special Investigations Unit took another beating in the pages of the city’s paper of record today, this time over its inability to make any headway on a case involving a police dog in the Peel division that bit a 21-year-old woman and sent her to the hospital. The SIU attempted to investigate the incident, but it was stymied when Peel police refused to fully cooperate (the officer handling the dog—a German shepherd named Wyatt—wouldn’t release its history), and now the injured woman is suing the Peel police in hopes the courts will do what the SIU can’t.

The Toronto Star (who else?) has the story:

The SIU said Peel police also would not release Wyatt’s history of occurrences, formally called Police Dog Services Search Reports, to determine if there were reasonable grounds for a criminal charge.

“These reports would be very useful in determining if Wyatt had a prior propensity to bite and not release,” Scott wrote. “Further they may inform the question of the subject officer’s prior knowledge of the dog’s propensity.”

Obviously, this isn’t the first time the SIU has run up against the so-called “blue wall of silence.” We’ve followed the Star’s tireless reporting on the SIU closely, and there seems to be little to inspire confidence in the unit’s ability to do its job. Police have continuously stonewalled the watchdog, and the organization has also appeared at times somewhat sloppy (interesting fact: the SIU has opened 3,400 cases since 1990, but sent only three police officers to prison—which means either the police have a sterling record or the SIU is ineffective).

Given that police accountability has become something of a hot-button issue in the province in the wake of last summer’s G20 summit, we wonder if it’s about time the watchdog’s role became an election issue. Of course, in one corner, there’s have an incumbent who has repeatedly denied calls for a public inquiry into the G20 policing fiasco; in the other, there’s Tim Hudak, whose allegiances seem pretty clear.

Police blocking probe into dog attack, SIU says [Toronto Star]
Peel cops and SIU at odds in dog bite incident [Toronto Sun]