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The first Black female to serve as superintendent with the Toronto Police Service has pleaded guilty to seven counts of professional misconduct for her role in providing six Black constables with answers to cheat on their promotions exam.

Supt. Stacy Clarke believed her efforts were justified because of the slow pace she saw in promoting Black candidates for promotions within the Toronto Police Service, her lawyer Joseph Markson argued during the tribunal hearing. 

“As the first Black female superintendent in the history of the Toronto Police Service, Supt. Clarke has been running uphill and against the wind for more than 26 years,” said Markson.

“In these unique and extraordinary circumstances, there is a straight line in connecting systemic discrimination in policing towards Blacks, Supt. Clarke’s lived experience, and the facts of misconduct to which she had pled guilty. She is extremely remorseful for her misconduct. However those acts of misconduct were rooted in real despair, real hurt and real pain.”

Clarke pleaded guilty to all seven counts last fall after she was caught providing pictures with the answers to questions for officers in the promotional process, which included three counts of breach of confidence, three counts of discreditable conduct, and one count of insubordination.

All of the incidents occurred in 2021; she was promoted to superintendent the year before. 

While her misconduct could merit a dismissal, TPS isn’t pushing for that.

“There’s good reason to question whether a senior officer who engaged in conduct like this has a realistic role in the service in the future. I want to be clear that’s not the penalty I’ll be asking you to consider,” said TPS representative at the hearing, lawyer Scott Hutchison.

Hutchison told the tribunal that he would not object to introducing evidence and witnesses that could illuminate what he called a “pernicious problem of anti-Black racism.”

According to Hutchison, TPS are seeking a two-rank demotion to staff sergeant for a one year period before returning Clarke to the rank of inspector at the end of that year. 

She would not be automatically re-promoted to superintendent, however. 

Markson on the other hand is arguing for a one year demotion and then an automatic reinstatement to her rank of superintendent. 

“A return to the rank of superintendent is in the best interests of the TPS and the diverse communities that it proudly serves,” said Markson.

The hearing was attended by as many 60 supporters for Clark, according to CP24

Clarke’s record of statement claimed that she was remorseful for her misconduct and wanted to put her actions into context, saying that she had personally experienced mistreatment and hurtful comments.

“Going through this role as the only female Black officer was traumatic, painful and disorienting. I have been forever changed by what I had to endure through that time,” said Clarke, reading from her statement. 

“I’ve had to jump through hoops created just for me even though I worked to get my promotions. I’ve stood up when credentials of people of colour were undermined… I soon realized my efforts were having no impact. I was frustrated and desperate. I myself had benefited from lobbying on my behalf in the past. However the differential treatment experienced by the candidates I was mentoring was painful….A rising tide of emotions overwhelmed me. I decided that if the opportunity presented itself I would assist the candidates and make a desperate effort to level the playing field.”

Lawyers involved confirmed that TPS Chief Mark Saunders will be among the witnesses called to the sentencing hearing which remains ongoing, and that Clarke herself is also expected to testify.

The five officers who were involved in the cheating scandal have been dealt with at the divisional level, each receiving between ten and 20 days without pay. 

Constable Horace Harvey pleaded guilty to one count of discreditable conduct and received a six-month demotion from first class to second class constable.