OPP taking 'oversight' role in Rob Ford-related probe, Project Brazen 2
Published Wednesday, March 5, 2014 12:26PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, March 5, 2014 5:34PM EST
The OPP will "assume an oversight role" with respect to the Project Brazen 2 investigation -- the probe involving Toronto Mayor Rob Ford -- after a formal request was made by Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair.
In a letter addressed to OPP Commissioner Chris Lewis, Blair wrote: "I am writing to make a formal request that the Ontario Provincial Police assume an oversight role with respect to Project Brazen 2."
According to the letter, the request comes after a "recent phone call" and was accepted by the OPP “effective immediately.”
Project Brazen 2 was launched in the fall after police became aware of a video that allegedly shows Ford smoking from a glass pipe. A separate investigation involving drugs and guns was being conducted the time.
The spin-off investigation resulted in charges being laid against Alessandro "Sandro" Lisi.
Lisi, Ford's friend and occasional driver, is charged with extortion for his alleged attempt to obtain the so-called crack video.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday afternoon, Lewis said Toronto police will remain actively involved in the Project Brazen 2 investigation, but that the "whole senior management team" will be replaced by OPP members.
"We will just put an extra layer of management in there," Lewis said.
For his part, Ford told reporters at city hall that the decision to hand over the investigation should have happened much earlier.
“The damage has already been done. The chief obviously is just playing political games and it should’ve been done from the very beginning,” the mayor said, speaking outside his office Wednesday.
Ford fielded questions about whether he was worried he would be charged by police.
“Charged for what? What, an empty vodka bottle or urinating in the park, which one? I’m not quite sure.” he said.
Ford said he was more interested in finding out how much money the Project Brazen 2 investigation cost Toronto taxpayers.
“I want to know how much money they’ve spent on surveilling me and renting planes and doing the whole nine yards. I want that number to come out, that’s just a waste of tax-payers money.”
Earlier Wednesday, Ford’s brother, Coun. Doug Ford, told reporters he is "happy" about the decision.
"It won’t be so political maybe," he said.
But according to Toronto police spokesperson Mark Pugash, the decision to give OPP an oversight role was simply to "avoid distractions."
"There have been quite vocal, personal attacks and other distractions," Pugash told CP24.
"We wanted to take steps to avoid distractions. We wanted to take action, or potential impact, on court proceedings so that any investigation before the courts, or that could be before the courts, would not be subject to these kinds of distractions."
Pugash did not say if there were any major new developments in the ongoing investigation.
"We don’t discuss ongoing criminal investigations. And if there is more information, I'm sure the OPP will release that information."