The Toronto Police Services board says that it is committed to “ensuring that the public has as full an understanding” as possible about the circumstances that allowed a man with a violent past to flee the country while on a day pass from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).
Zhebin Cong, 47, was charged in the fatal stabbing of his roommate in 2014 but was found not criminally responsible.
He then disappeared on July 3 while on a day pass from CAMH.
Police searched for Cong for nearly two weeks but on Tuesday they learned that he had already left the country on an international flight on the same day he was reported missing.
Police Chief Mark Saunders has since asked for a full review of the case that will look at whether Cong “received assistance, money, or a passport from anyone who may have facilitated him leaving the country.”
Saunders has also called for an internal review of Toronto police procedures as they pertain to Cong’s disappearance.
In a joint statement released late Friday afternoon, the TPS board said that it supports Saunders “comprehensive response” and expects that the forthcoming reviews will be “significant and wide-ranging” and lead to recommendations “that will prevent a situation like this from happening in the future.”
The board also promised to work to ensure that the public is given as “full an understanding” about the case as possible given the “considerable community concerns that arise from such a situation.”
“The Board is committed to ensuring that the public has as full an understanding of the facts underlying the case as possible, given the personal and medical information involved, from the service’s perspective, as well as reviewing any outcomes and recommendations, and learning whether anything could have been done differently,” the statement said. “Ultimately, the board will receive the findings from the chief’s review, have an opportunity to ask questions and engage in meaningful dialogue, and ensure that the issues raised by the public are fully and effectively explored.”
Tory reiterates calls for provincial review
In its most recent assessment of Cong, the Ontario Review Board wrote that he continued to “pose a significant threat to the safety of the public.”
The board also noted that Cong didn't want to take his medication and expressed a desire to return to China to see his mother.
Speaking with reporters about the case at an unrelated press conference on Friday, Mayor John Tory said that there seems to be “a number of shortcomings in the system that allowed this incident to happen.”
With that in mind, Tory said that he continues to believe that the province should conduct an overarching review that will look at all of the circumstances that led up to Cong’s disappearance.
“I just think that it is important that somebody that is independent takes a look at this and makes sure every question gets answered and that every change that is needed to be made in the rules and procedures is made so that we can maintain public confidence in this system,” he said.