High-ranking Toronto police officer facing misconduct probe

·3 min read
Supt. Scott Baptist of Toronto police is under investigation for allegedly making inappropriate comments to a woman at a Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Quebec City last week.  (Tina Mackenzie/CBC - image credit)
Supt. Scott Baptist of Toronto police is under investigation for allegedly making inappropriate comments to a woman at a Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Quebec City last week. (Tina Mackenzie/CBC - image credit)

A high-ranking Toronto police officer has been suspended with pay following a complaint that he made inappropriate comments to a woman at an event in Quebec City, CBC Toronto has learned.

Supt. Scott Baptist allegedly made the comments to a civilian member of Toronto police last week while attending the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) conference, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation who are not authorized to speak publicly. He faces an internal police disciplinary investigation. No criminal charges have been laid.

Baptist was awarded a lifetime achievement award at the event in recognition of his contributions to road safety throughout his career.

David Butt, the lawyer for the complainant, said in an email to CBC Toronto that his client is "co-operating fully" with police investigators.

"To preserve the integrity of that investigation, we will be making no further public statement for the foreseeable future," Butt wrote.

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police
Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police

In a statement to CBC Toronto, Natalie Wright, communications adviser for the CACP, said the association is aware of the incident and an external investigation is underway.

"We are fully supportive of, and cooperating with, this investigation," Wright said. "The CACP condemns any inappropriate and/or illegal behaviour by police officers at any time, including at CACP events."

Joseph Markson, Baptist's lawyer, told CBC Toronto in an email that his client "respects the investigative process," but "adamantly denies having committed any misconduct."

In a statement, Toronto police said Baptist has not been arrested or charged in any police jurisdiction.

Police spokesperson Stephanie Sayer also said the Police Services Act prevents the force from "confirming or releasing information about internal disciplinary matters, unless the matter is heard at a disciplinary tribunal, where the information is made public."

A CACP news release issued earlier this month says Baptist has been working as a police officer for 35 years.

Over the course of that time, he has worked in roles including highway patrol, traffic enforcement and collision reconstruction — and as a staff sergeant, was responsible for the front-line officers at traffic services, overseeing the city's response to fatal and life-threatening crashes. He has been the district commander of traffic operations with Toronto police since 2017.

Toronto Mayor John Tory said Friday he couldn't comment on the situation with an investigation ongoing.

"I think every organization, no matter how good it is or how progressive it thinks it is, every organization has to continue to focus on … the new rules of the game in the 21st century," Tory said, speaking generally. "There just are standards of behaviour that are expected of us all."

Baptist is the third high-ranking officer with Toronto police to be investigated for misconduct this year.

Supt. Riyaz Hussein, who led the service's disciplinary hearings office, was charged with impaired driving following a crash in Pickering, Ont. in January. He is currently performing administrative duties pending the results of his criminal and disciplinary hearings.

Supt. Stacy Clarke, meanwhile, is facing Police Services Act charges over allegations that she interfered with the Toronto police promotions process by providing "confidential" information to a handful of officers ahead of their interviews.