Have you ever seen an old Western where an outgunned sheriff recruits deputies from the town to fight the bad guy? According to Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders, that’s apparently how law enforcement still works because Saunders just blamed the public when asked why the cops took so long to arrest Bruce McArthur, the alleged serial killer that’s been targeting Toronto’s Gay Village since 2012.
In an interview with The Globe and Mail, Saunders suggests that if the public had come forward with information, the police would’ve caught McArthur sooner.
He said, “We knew something was up.… We did not have the evidence. If anyone knew before us, it’s people who knew him very, very well. And so that did not come out.” Saunders added, “We knew that people were missing and we knew we didn’t have the right answers. But nobody was coming to us with anything.”
Saunders also said his force was not experienced in investigating serial killers, saying, “This is something that hasn’t happened in our city before. We’ve sat back and watched CNN and watched news reports on serial killers in other countries, but we haven’t seen it here.”
Someone should inform Saunders of his city’s history: The most famous Canadian serial killers, Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo, both operated in Toronto.
It’s also worth noting Bruce McArthur was already known to police. In 2001, McArthur was charged with beating a male sex worker with a metal pipe. McArthur was sentenced to one year under house arrest, followed by a curfew for six months. After that, he spent three years on probation and was banned from entering Toronto’s Gay Village. However, McArthur was granted a pardon for this crime, so while the records are public, the incident no longer appears on his record.
Perhaps no one came forward, because unlike what TV mysteries suggest, most citizens don’t go around solving crimes in their spare time. Nicki Ward, a transgender activist accuses Saunders of victim blaming, pointing to the poor relationship between the police and the LGBTQ community.
Ward said, “It’s beyond disingenuous. If you don’t have an organic connection with the community, how can you possibly communicate? The barrier is ridiculously high.”
Last week, the Toronto Police Association voted they had “no confidence” in Chief Saunders. Only 14% of the association voted in support of him.
What do you think of the Toronto police chief’s comments? Let us know in the comments.
Featured image by Kevin van Paassen via the Globe and Mail