He’s Toronto’s million-dollar police officer.
Const. Ioan-Florin Floria, who has been off the job since he was nabbed in a big drug sweep in 2007, earned over $300,000 in salary over the past three years and has been taking home a regular paycheque for the past 12 years, without even clocking in for a shift.
Floria is one of 20 Toronto police officers currently on paid suspension, according to data obtained by CityNews through a Freedom of Information request.
The names of the officers weren’t released but their suspension dates, divisions, and ranks detail an ongoing problem for Toronto Police – and many other police services across the province.
Officers bringing home six-figure salaries – sometimes for years- without providing any level of public service.
“If you have a police officer making the money they are, and who have sworn the oath they have sworn, and are unable to come in to work and do their duty because of actions on their own part, then we have to deal with that,” Jeff McGuire, the executive director of the Ontario Association of Police Chiefs, explained.
Floria is one of the officers Toronto Police Services (TPS) has to deal with.
Arrested in 2007 and charged with several criminal offences linked with organized crime, the traffic services officer has stayed on the payroll for over a decade without delivering a single ticket.
In 2012 a jury acquitted him of six criminal charges, including money laundering and accessory after the fact to kidnapping, but his charges under the Police Services Act still lingered.
Nearly two years ago, he was found guilty on four Police Service Act charges, including breach of confidence and discredible conduct, but he appealed that ruling and last year, earned over $100,000 while his appeal makes its way through the tribunal process.
“Part of the challenge is, if there are serious cases of professional misconduct there are often criminal charges and if that’s the case, it’s in the Act, the Crown attorney has the ability to ask police services to not proceed with the Police Act charges, if you will, until they’ve completed the criminal charges,” said McGuire, who spent more than 30 years with TPS – most recently as acting deputy chief before climbing to Chief at Niagara Regional Police Services in 2012.
“If a criminal trial can take sometimes, two, three, four years, during that time the Police Act charges have to sit in the balance and then start. And it can have the same inherent delays that any court-type process can have, where there could be disclosure issues, or stays or applications made by counsel.”
Floria’s isn’t the only case.
There’s the Toronto Courts officer who was suspended in 2004 and continued collecting a salary until 2013 when he or she was suspended without pay.
The officer ultimately resigned in 2015.
Or Constables Leslie Nyznik, Joshua Cabero and Sameer Kara, who were suspended with pay in 2015 after being charged with sexually assaulting a female parking enforcement officer during a night of partying.
They were only charged last year under the Police Services Act and recently launched a $5-milliom lawsuit against TPS claiming the service engaged in negligent investigation, misfeasance in a public office and malicious prosecution related to the initial criminal investigation.
All the while, the three constables continue to be paid while not working.
While cases like this make up a small percentage of all police behavior – for example there are over 5,000 TPS officers on payroll and only 20 are suspended – they can be costly.
As of 2016, a first class constable earned over $98,000 per year – meaning even with the current suspensions, TPS has spent about $2-million on wages for work that couldn’t be done.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
A change in government means a change in legislation
After years of consultation, the previous Liberal government attempted to revamp police oversight and investigations under the province’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU), but when the Conservatives handily won last spring’s election, they tore up that legislation.
Instead, their Bill 68, which passed into law last March, sets strict timelines for special investigations into police conduct but does very little to help ween the few bad cops off the tax bill.
“For our police chiefs we clarified when it is appropriate to suspend with pay and when it’s appropriate to suspend without pay,” Solicitor General Sylvia Jones explained.
“We are now working on the regulations and what I think you will see moving forward from our government is to tighten up how long these hearings are taking. It’s clearly unacceptable that someone is in limbo, in this case, for ten plus years.”
However, McGuire points out that those details have not yet been laid out and that the law is still very restrictive and vague.
“One of the issues is the definitions,” McGuire told CityNews.
“Since we don’t know what’s going to come out in those regulations, it is hard to predict how they will change.”
That’s because under the current legislation, one of the only ways officers can only be suspended without pay is when they are convicted of a criminal offence and sentenced to jail time.
Officers can also be suspended without pay if charged with a “serious offence” under the criminal code – something that has not yet been defined – and a far cry from what the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police has been lobbying for, for years – namely to be able to suspend without pay if serious charges are laid under the Police Services Act.
“There are some serious misconducts that can occur, not related to the officers’ duty, that might not be criminal but that we thought should have been supported for that. That didn’t happen in that Act,” McGuire said.
Jones also didn’t set out concrete timelines for when police disciplinary hearings had to occur.
“We’re going to make sure that individuals who choose to drag out hearings don’t have that option,” she said.
“We’re going to make sure that hearings happen expeditiously, but also with the understanding that officers do have the right to have a fair hearing.”
Jones gave no indication of when regulations that define serious offences would be brought forward or how the Ministry plans on ensuring hearings take place quickly.
Nevertheless, McGuire says small steps to greater accountability for taxpayer funds are in the works but great leaps are still quite far away.
“The public isn’t going to be overwhelmingly satisfied,” he said.
“They are going to see a small step forward, I believe, than in the past but it is not going to get to the point where people say ‘we’re really happy with this.’ ”
CityNews reached out to Toronto Police several times for this story but have not yet received a statement or comment at the time of publication.