Down Syndrome Association
300 Sunset Blvd, Peterborough, ON K9H 5L3
Charitable # 88604 8792 RR0001
July 20, 2017
Mr. Mike McCormack
President, Toronto Police Association
2075 Kennedy Rd #200
Scarborough, ON M1T 3V3
Dear Mr. McCormack,
The Down Syndrome Association of Ontario (DSAO) was disappointed to learn of your refusal to have constables Sasa Sljivo and Matthew Saris issue both an in-person and a public apology for their inappropriate, rude, and uneducated comments about Francie Munoz.
People with Down syndrome are people first and share the same human rights as every other citizen in Ontario. Approximately one in 800 babies born in Ontario have Down syndrome, which occurs when a person has three copies of the 21st chromosome instead of two. Where children and adults with Down syndrome or other disabilities are given opportunities to participate, all children and adults benefit, and environments of friendship, acceptance, and respect are created.
That the comments were made by Toronto police officers is a disgrace to the Toronto Police Association, and we are glad to hear the matter is being taken seriously enough that the two officers have been served notice to appear at a tribunal hearing.
However, a written apology – over a month after the incident was made public – is not adequate reparation to the family.
You have reportedly equated the family’s insistence on a public apology to them calling for a “public shaming” and “media show.” The DSAO sees this instead as an excellent opportunity for the Toronto Police Association to turn a gravely unfortunate and hurtful incident into a chance for learning and growth. A public apology, not only to the Munoz family but to Ontario’s larger Down syndrome community, can be used to spread a message of awareness and acceptance, while allowing them to offer only a written apology shows that discrimination is tolerated among our police force, the people we tell our children to go to if they ever need help. We cannot allow our police officers to bully any of our most vulnerable citizens without publicly accepting the consequences.
The DSAO calls for a public apology to Francie Munoz, and we support the many recommendations that the police officers in this province receive training on how to engage with – and about – people with disabilities. We would be happy to help provide education to your officers on the challenges faced by those living with Down syndrome, and also the many ways they contribute to their communities.
The Down Syndrome Association of Ontario