Toronto police face controversy over licensed, fully stocked bar

Officer charged in car crash was inside bar three hours before crash

Toronto police face controversy over licensed, fully stocked bar

The presence of a license, fully stocked bar inside Toronto police headquarters is now under scrutiny after a police officer was charged with impaired driving.

Supt. Riyaz Hussein, who headed the service's disciplinary tribunal, pleaded guilty to driving with a blood alcohol level over 80 mg per 100 ml of blood in connection to a crash in January 2022.

The crash happened on a highway roughly 38 kilometres from police headquarters.

While it’s unclear whether Hussein got drunk at the bar inside the headquarters, he did enter the bar at 4:31 p.m. on the day of the incident, reports CBC.

By 7:39 p.m. that evening Hussein had already crashed into a delivery truck in a Toronto suburb and had been assessed by paramedics. An OPP officer demanded a roadside breath test which Hussein failed, according to the report, citing the notice of hearing in Hussein's disciplinary proceeding.

On Monday, HUssein appeared before the Toronto police disciplinary tribunal on related Police Service Act charges. He pleaded guilty to one count of discreditable conduct.

As penalty, he received a demotion in rank from superintendent to inspector for 12 months, effective April 3, 2023.

Hussein returned to duty in February 2022 and was placed on administrative duties, reports CBC.

Is it acceptable?

But the new incident raises more questions, according to the CBC report.

"That incident has made me very concerned," says Alok Mukherjee, former chair of the Toronto Police Service Board, in the report. 

"That raises questions about supervision and control of the room, but it raises a bigger question. Whatever may have been the culture 50 years ago — even 25 years ago — of having fully-stocked bars on premises … whether that is acceptable today?"

Large public buildings having a liquor licensed space is one thing, but having a licensed space and having a fully-stocked bar is another, he says.

"We need to discuss whether it is appropriate in this day and age when there's so much concern about impaired driving."

The revelation also surprises John Sewell, co-ordinator of the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition. 

"I'm absolutely astounded they've got a bar in this government building," he says. "This is a public service. I'm not aware of any other public service that has a bar in it — and yet the police do."

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